Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

You really have to want to see this place to go to the trouble of getting there; it’s off the beaten path in the southeast corner of Colorado. The drive from Breckinridge offered different topography and more wildflowers than we had seen elsewhere so the time passed quickly, but even when first catching a glimpse of the dunes, there are miles to go before reaching them. They sit against a mountain range with eerie visual impact that only increases as you walk through the grasses, cross the riverbed at its seasonal trickle and stand on the hot sand at their base to gape. It’s an alien world, and those little black dots seen here and there are hikers and sand surfers undertaking moonscape sports. Clouds casting shadows change the landscape and make the dunes look particularly dramatic, and they must be spectacular at dawn and dusk, and when the river runs high and the cottonwoods share their color.BC44552E-4E42-41A7-95F8-1E2851915099B0705AF9-99EB-432C-B700-4186A742DADABE52BDBD-4B1E-41AC-BCB3-0DF121290FE46D3B0143-3986-4116-B740-FADEB50A71A1EAA9509E-2369-4783-809C-8FB9B00A9C6F7FD91719-45BB-409E-B5FF-51120B8BE9F633D4299D-748F-44EB-BAB8-11B6BFC922A44916AF64-6F22-4D23-B0D0-54C6B609578B890D6924-D179-4223-AF30-DE69B0267AF16BA7293D-17AC-4847-AD49-94A4942126567AAC544F-919D-4BAE-A165-D9FD9A41DE6198AED056-3F36-44FF-BC80-9BAACB328A32Rain teased us as we left the park, and we finally aimed our compass towards home.A9422EF2-46FD-4C13-913E-4CDC14AB1A8913743851-7D91-44F7-B406-D6A5CEFB31B8



Whether by God’s hand or man’s, I am in awe of the visionaries who created the world I am blessed to see. The Colorado countryside from Vail to Beaver Creek to Frisco to Breckinridge is awash with interesting towns, dramatic scenery, summer craft markets and flower combinations worthy of gold medals in any competition for creativity. I’m glad it is only my job to appreciate and not judge a winner among them.




The Road Less Traveled

And what a difference! We drove this morning from cloudy Aspen to sunny Avon, the long way. When extra miles mean Independence Pass (the highest paved state highway over the Continental Divide in Colorado, at 12,095 ft), one will be challenged not to shout out either from terror or glory. The road is too narrow in some places for two passing cars and hairpin turns without  vision is common. There is evidence of avalanche damage in many places and falling rock is a frequent hazard. But to reach the summit, beyond the tree line, is glorious. Descending to Twin Lakes and back to “normal” scenery isn’t too shabby either.