Yea, There Are Sand Dunes In Colorado…Big Ones

So as mentioned in the earlier ‘teaser’ post, we decided to take advantage of my four-day and head out of town for two days/one night. When Mary Jo was here a couple of weeks ago, we though hard about venturing down to the Sand Dunes, but ultimately decided that we didn’t have the time to make the trip happen….it’s a 4.5 – 5 hour drive each way, therefore requiring two days. Well, when Ahna and I started talking about heading out of town, there was already the draw to the Dunes in place.

We booked a bed-and-breakfast sight unseen and departed for the trip yesterday around noon. For some reason or another, Ezra wasn’t taking to sitting in the car very well and the 3 hour drive to Salida quickly (or slowly, depending on perspective) turned into a 5 hour trek. We stopped there for dinner since the town that our bed was in doesn’t have any restaurants and headed out for another hour drive south. If you have never been to that part of the state – you are missing out. It has the highest average elevation of the entire Rocky Mountain chain with something like 15 peaks over 14,000 feet; and they all dramatically drop all of the way down to the valley floor (a 6,000 foot drop) – no foothills.

We had decided on the Sand Dunes for several reasons including the photo opportunities…so finding a place close to the Dunes was essential, especially if I wanted to hit it up either at sunset or sunrise. The problem is that there were no hotel rooms available in either Alamosa or Salida (since it is Labor Day weekend and there are no other towns within hours), so we looked down the B&B path. We ended up settling on a place called Willow Springs Bed and Breakfast located in Moffat. Moffat is a town that is about 30 miles from the Dunes and has a population of just over 100 people according to the last census. No restaurants, no gas stations, no stop lights…but great views of the mountains from the front porch.  It wasn’t the best B&B that we have stayed at and our room was really simple: a full bed and a sink; the bathroom was shared at the end of the hallway. The food was really good in the morning and we met some really nice people during breakfast – including a woman that could talk (and did) nonstop for an hour about her family. We are on the fence as to if we would return to Willow Springs, but the price is certainly attractive: $65 in high season for the room that we had. Ezra did great, spending the night without complaint in his travel bed.

We got down there just in tim to check in, say hello, and head down to the Dunes for sunset shots. The weather included lots of rain that afternoon and lots of clouds still lingering around during sunset, so I was a little disappointed with the lighting. However, there was about 3 minutes where the sun broke through some of the clouds resulting in some pretty cool photos. Also in the morning hours over sunrise at the B&B, the clouds provided some amazing light. There was a common theme between the two photo shoots: mosquitos. I got bit at least five times and killed at least 8 mosquitos on my legs – during the sunrise alone. Argh, I still itch.

We went back to the Dune in the morning and did a little hiking around. It’s really fun to do there since there are basically no rules: hike wherever you want, do whatever you like, and play as long as you wish. People bring kites, snowboards, skis, sleds, and everything in between to have fun in the sand. The downside is that it is really tiring to walk in for any period of time. We did our best for a while, climbing on the lower portions of the dunes and jumping off of the edges. Of course it filled up our shoes with lots and lots of sand. 

After the Dunes we stopped for a short hike at Zapata Falls; but were not able to go all of the way to the falls because you actually need sandals (or an extra pair of shoes) to walk up the creek; so we enjoyed the lower and smaller falls. After that we started the trip home, which was a lot easier than the drive out but still took about 4.5 hours. We arrived home early in the evening and just enjoyed being together at home for the night.

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