Round Trip Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation: 8171 - 9085 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Dunes/Visitor Center
Attractions: Short connector
The Dunes to Visitor Center trail is located in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the San Luis Valley north of Alamosa, Colorado. The trail provides a connecting route between the dunes parking area, picnic area and Visitor Center.
This post begins on the dunes end of the trail and goes to the Visitor Center and back.
The trail begins by crossing a small stream that flows along the border of the picnic area and into Medano Creek.
The trail itself has a semi soft sandy bottom that slightly increases the hiking effort.
For the most part the trail travels out in the open with very little shade.
After climbing away from the picnic area the trail makes a trek across the sand sheet that buffers the sand dunes from the surrounding land.
For a short distance the trail is secluded within a small wash.
Once out of the wash the trail makes a beeline for the Visitor Center which sits on a small rise off in the distance.
Just before reaching the Visitor Center the trail meets up with the Sand Sheet Loop trail. If you haven't hiked the Sand Sheet Loop yet then it would be a good option to do now that will only add a half mile to the hike.
The observation desk at the Visitor Center is a good place to relax before returning to the Dunes trailhead.
The dunes lay in open view on the return trip with Mt. Herard adding its prominence to the background.
The main reason for coming to the park is to see the dunes, of course, and they dominate the landscape while hiking in this direction.