Base Camp Family Campground
For this part of the trip, we stayed at Base Camp Family campground about 10 minutes outside the park. It’s a small campground, but has large sites and a very clean shower/laundry facility. No pool or activities but we loved the beautiful views! We stayed two nights.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
The Oasis Store a few miles outside of the park rents sandsleds and sandboards for around $22 each. We arrived around 8 when they opened and had no trouble with availability. They did say they do sell out, especially on weekends We rented 3 and were able to share them. Walking up the dunes to sled back down is a lot of work so we needed breaks! The sleds come with a special type of wax that makes them more slippery then a normal sled. The sand is really hot so closed toed shoes are a must! There isn’t any shade so bring plenty of water. The kids loved doing this and we spent a few hours here! In the summer it was great to go in the morning before it got too hot.
After all the work hiking up the sand dunes we headed to Zapata Falls to cool off. This was a few miles outside the park on the way back to our campground. The trailhead is 3 miles down a dirt, rocky road. We didn’t need four wheel drive but it was a bumpy ride! The hike to the waterfall is 1/2 mile each way. It’s a pretty steep uphill climb until you get to the river. Once at the river, you walk in the water to get to the waterfall. The water is toe numbing freezing! We had to take breaks on top of rocks to warm up our feet. As we went around the corner the waterfall was beautiful but very cold as the spray hits you!
Great Sand Dunes National Park was one of the funnest stops on our trip for the kids. Would highly recommend taking the kids there for a day of play! Afterwards, we headed to Mesa Verde National Park.