Colorado is home to the tallest dunes in North America – appropriately called the Great Sand Dunes, located in the southern part of the state. It is not surprising that over the past couple of years Colorado has become one of the trendiest sandboarding destinations in the states.

Great Sand Dunes Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Reserve.

Sand Dunes in Colorado

Sandboarding at the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Sand boarding, sand sledding, and sand skiing are allowed away from vegetation, but you will need to bring your own equipment. You can buy a sandboard online (150-250$) or rent one in a city nearby (20$ per day). There is no sandboard rental at the National Park itself, sadly, but plenty of options a few miles away, such as The Oasis Store, Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa, and Sand Dunes Recreation in Hooper. Keep in mind that some stores will not rent you a sandboard in winter or when the sand is wet or frozen (and if you own your own board, you may want to postpone your trip to the dunes until when the weather is nicer). Opt for a sandboard if you are planning to descend the tallest dunes, while sandsleds are better suited for smaller slopes close to the Visitor Center (and they make a perfect choice for kids!). Sand skiing is still a somewhat niche activity and only recommended if you are very experienced. You will likely need to make your own sand skis as they cannot be easily bought nor rented. Make sure to use plenty of sandboard wax!

The Great Sand Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes of Colorado are the tallest in North America. The tallest dune, Star Dune, is 750 feet high and over 8,000 feet in height. The presence of a year-round stream at their base, flowing out of the mountains, is another unique feature of these dunes. Sediments and water once poured down into the San Luis Valley from both mountain ranges, into what geologists have named Lake Alamosa. Most of the ancient lake has now vanished as a result of climate change, leaving behind a huge layer of sand. This sand is continuously moved by the prevailing winds back and forth. The prevailing winds are blowing the sand eastward, and storm winds are blowing the sand westward. These opposing forces are what cause the dunes to expand vertically, forming the massive star-shaped dunes.

Castle Creek Dunes

North Sand Hills near Waldon

The North Sand Hills Recreation Area is a vast land once used by Native Americans as a bison killing site. It extends for 1400 acres and it’s somewhat unique for it’s a patch of sand located in the middle of a mountain, surrounded by trees.

What to wear

It’s best to wear cotton socks, closed-toe shoes, long trousers and loose, breathable clothes when going sandboarding in Colorado. Read: best clothes for sandboarding.

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