Sand Sheet Loop

Round Trip Distance: 0.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 8122 - 8169 feet
Cellphone: 0-2 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Visitor Center
Fee: $15/vehicle
Attractions: Interpretive trail

The Sand Sheet Loop trail is located in the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the San Luis Valley north of Alamosa, Colorado. The Sand Sheet Loop is an interpretive trail that provides an introduction to the landscape and ecosystem of the Great Sand Dunes. When visiting the park the Visitor Center is the best place to stop first to pick up the tidbits of information that will make your exploration of the area more complete and fulfilling. After learning what you can in the Visitor Center the Sand Sheet Loop is a good choice to do next before proceeding to the dunes.

The trail begins just outside the Visitor Center.

The trail has a well maintained gravel path that is suitable for walking in most any weather.

Plaques are used along the trail to identify the various vegetation and provide some details about how each plant is able to flourish in the local environment.

Benches provide the opportunity to relax and contemplate your surroundings as you enjoy the views of the sand sheet, dunes and distant mountains.

Other interesting details about the ecosystem and history of the area can be gleaned from the different kiosks.

As the loop turns back towards the Visitor Center hikers are treated to scenes of the dunes themselves. On this day the ever changing silhouettes from passing clouds paraded across the vast expanse of sand while pockets of sunshine shone through like spotlights to draw one's gaze from one area of the dune to another.

Erupting from the valley floor the snow capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains tower in stark contrast to the desert scene as the whole spectacle pleasures the natural senses and gratifies the soul of the beholder.

As morsels of new information are picked up from each station along the trail a new appreciation for the sand sheet is developed.

Just before the trail reaches the Visitor Center it meets up with the trail that leads to the dunes and picnic area.

Nature and other interpretive trails are important parts of the National Parks system. They also serve to educate visitors in National Forests and many other points of interest around the country. Interpretive trails can help preserve local history and give individuals a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of the environment. The Sand Sheet Loop is just such a trail. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.