Preparing for a Hiking and Camping Trip at the Sand Dunes National Park

Hiking and Fishing at the Sand Dunes

For Memorial Day Weekend, my boyfriend, Gunnar, and I are taking our first camping trip together to Southern Colorado to stay at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We have literally everything that a traveling couple could ever need to enjoy our camping trip, now that the Colorado weather has decided what it would like to do.

I know the Sand Dunes is a popular Colorado destination, so I wanted to out everything you need to know about camping and visiting the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

It’s been a long time since I have been to the Sand Dunes National Park, and Gunnar hasn’t been at all, so it’s basically like our first time. And just for fun, here is a fun shot of me at the dunes as a child. It was taken by my talented photographer mother, Kathleen Kennedy. She said that one of the three of her children even pretended they were dying in a desert somewhere. Boy, were we dramatic.

So my friends below is your guide to traveling to the Sand Dunes this summer.

Camping Checklist for the Sand Dunes

We inherited our camping gear from my parents because to be quite honest, it’s cheaper, and they literally have EVERYTHING. Probably one of the biggest items we acquired was our kitchen. It is a grill, dishes, cookware, silverware, towels, pots, pans, and kettles all neatly organized into a big green box (complete with detachable washbasin).

With our stunning kitchen, we are also taking our Cabela’s 8-person Alaskan Tent. Why so big you ask? Well, because we’re bringing the pup and want to make sure no one’s kicking anyone in the face.

We then have a utility box with axes, collapsible shovels, hammers, matches, rope, and extra stakes in the case we have a dust storm or something out of The Mummy Returns.

To save you some time looking for all of this nonsense and making your own list, I have a downloadable PDF that you can start with. When Gunnar and I went through the list, we crossed off things we knew we wouldn’t need. That’s the beauty of this checklist, you can cater it to what you think you’ll need!

Places to Camp at the Great Sand Dunes National Park

We definitely plan on staying out in the middle of the sand dunes. And why? Because its in perfect view for Stargazing, that’s why. With the lack of light pollution, this makes the Sand dunes a preferred spot to get your stargaze on.

But that’s not the only place to camp. In fact, there are 4-WD offroading sites you can get to, and many other controlled campgrounds in the nearby area. You can find all of them here and don’t worry, we’ll be sure to tell you how our desert camping experience goes.

Hiking the Sand Dunes

There are no hard cut trails in the sand dunes and you are allowed to explore and hike anywhere you wish to in the 30 square mile dune field. If you’d like to amp up the play, bring some sleds and boards for sand boarding and sledding! Hiking through a bunch of sand is not the only place to hike. Search All Trails or visit the National Park’s site directly for a listing of other great hikes in the area.

Can I bring my dog to the Sand Dunes?

Yes, you can! All Trails recommends you keep them on a leash though.

So far, we’ve decided that it’s best to go earlier in the year, once it just starts getting warm, not only because it will be pleasant weather-wise, but because if we’re bringing the pup, we don’t want her little paws to get burned trying to walk through the sand. Once the sand heats up, it can be very painful to your furry friend. The sand dunes also has an area where small streams and pools of water collect, making it a nice place for your dog to get a little cool off if it does feel hotter than normal.

What Else Can We Do Near the Sand Dunes?

Beer and Food

Although this area doesn’t look like it has very much, there is a lot Alamosa area has to offer. If you’re looking to wet your whistle a little, you can take a short drive over to Alamosa to visit the San Luis Brewing Company. They have a wide selection of beers on tap and a killer food menu.

There are many other wonderful places to get your grub on, including the Bistro Rialto. You can find many other dining options there, but here are a list of the 10 Best Places to Dine in Alamosa.


If it’s still a little chilly in your opinion, there is always the option of staying and playing at the Sand Dunes Recreation Area. There you’ll find a variety of hot artesian swimming pools to play or relax in and they even have a campground that accommodates cabins, RVs, and tents! Also located in the sand dunes are a collection of pools that only appear at certain times of the year!


On the West side of the sand dunes, you’ll find Sand Creek, a perfect place to catch and keep your brook, cutthroat, rainbow, and brown trout. Check out some of the other locations for fishing here and basic regulations for keeping your catches. Don’t forget to buy your fishing license!

There is much more you can see and do at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and many other fun activities can be found on their website.

Safety at the Sand Dunes

Are the sand dunes safe? Why of course they are, or else they wouldn’t allow you in. The national park website will take you through a variety of topics that many are concerned about when traveling to the sand dunes. Here you can learn about pet safety, tick season, average temperature precautions, and evening lightning warnings.

Well, guys! We got lots of packing and preparation to do for this Colorado Sand Dunes journey. And don’t you worry, we will be following up on that adventure. If you liked this post, visit my post of Fishing and Hiking in Rampart Reservoir!