It was time to move north out of New Mexico. We weren’t keen about the weather forecast as it had rain in it with the potential to make the roads slick. But we already had delayed our move up into Colorado and Alley cat was demanding that we take her to another new state. And with Colorado under her harness, she now has been to a total of 30 states – quite the quantity of travel for a kitty.
We had only a bit of rain on the drive, but it was cloudy and foggy around the mountains as we arrived. We were in for a treat when we woke up to sunny and clear skies the next morning. Gary said, “take a look back out the window”. The RV park we are in is more than a bit on the seedy side, so I didn’t know what to think when he told me to look. But what a glorious view that absolutely could not be seen when we rolled in. This is Blanca Peak, the seventh tallest mountain peak in the continental United States, right here in our back yard, and we didn’t even know it.
Our stop in this part of Colorado was to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Sand dunes you ask? In a mountain valley at around 8,000 feet elevation? Sand dunes against the back drop of 13,000 and 14,000 foot mountain peaks? So how does this area come to have the tallest sand dunes in North America? Well, this is a huge and very flat valley fully surrounded by mountains. All the snow melt and rain in the mountains wears on the rock and creates grains of sand that flow into the creeks and main river of the valley, once again, that Rio Grande that we have been following all this year. In the summer, the water flow becomes a trickle, the winds blow, primarily out of the southwest, and the sand is blown across the valley. It finally reaches the mountain range known as the Sangre de Cristos and the sand becomes trapped as huge dunes at the base of the mountains. The dunes rise as high as 750 feet from the floor of the valley and cover around 30 square miles of area,
We hiked up a bit on the lower dunes and watched some children slide down dune faces on sleds. There were also people who had special boards very similar to snow boards who skied down the dunes. On a drive back through one area of the park we came upon a small group of mule deer who didn’t seem to be bothered by us at all – right up close and personal.