The Best Views in the National Parks: The Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

Photo by Jack Brauer

Witness the winds grinding the mountains into sand then resurrecting them as the country’s tallest dunes and you will understand how the earth measures time. Climb high in the 30-square-mile dunefield—you only need to hike 1.5 miles into the trailless expanse—and set up camp on the soft and shifting sands. As the sun sets, it lends warm light to the dunes and the snow-marbled peaks of the Sangre de Cristo range, as photographer Jack Brauer found in May. Pack in all your water and avoid high winds. Trailhead 37.738362, -105.516504; off County Road 150 Season Spring and fall Permit free; first-come, first-serve