When we spend any time in Alamosa we are usually planning to ride the Rio Grande Scenic RR which goes from there to LaVeta and back. We didn't do that this year but the Great Sand Dunes National Park is right next door and we hadn't been there for years so we decided to go on a hike or two nearby.
First we tried the Zapata Falls National Recreation Area. The hike require 3 miles on a very rough road. Although we have owned 4-wheel drive trucks for years, that isn't to go on rough roads but because they have a better resale value in Colorado. This wasn't a jeep road--there were lots of passenger cars. But it was very rough. I drove it anyway, in our brand new truck. (It was so trying, I asked John to drive back down after the hike.)
This is what the road looks like, once you enter the Zapata Falls area.
The trail to the falls was rocky but a good, short 1/2 mile walk. When we reached the river, the water was high and fast.
The best way to view the falls is to wade in the water but there is also a bridge that gives you a view without getting wet. Looking at that water, I had no intention of wading up to the falls. Where is the bridge?
It looks like I might get stuck in this tree, trying to get up that close to the waterfall.
I did get through, reaching a point we could see these folks up ahead in the creek.
People coming back after wading to the falls said they were up to their knees in the cold, rushing water. Neither of us were interested so we never did see the falls. I stole the picture below from the National Park website. Really wish we could have seen it in person.
On our way back down from the trail head, we saw this truck and small trailer that apparently decided he didn't want to continue on to the campground that is next to the trail. We thought he had good sense.
On the 4th of July we hiked in the forested part of the Great Sand Dunes before taking a look at the dunes. We went on the Mosca Pass trail, turning around after about 2 miles. It took us through great high Colorado mountain terrain with aspen and conifer trees. We went into the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area.
There was a small stream running along the trail.
When we finished that hike, we drove to the Visitor Center at the Great Sand Dunes. We haven't been there for years and years, but we know we don't like walking the the sand. Our first trip there was in the late 1970s with our sons Doug and Eric and nephew Craig. At that time, the Medano Creek was running in front of the dunes. We saw that again on the 4th. Just look at all those people! And if you look carefully at the line of people climbing up the sand ridge in the center of the photos, it almost looks like the Alaskan image of people on the Chilkoot Trail.
We had some good views of the sand dunes both days.