Sunday, April 14, 2013


I made another visit to the Great Sand Dunes on Saturday. This time I climbed Star Dune. Star Dune has an elevation around 8617 feet. That is the latest elevation I could find. The dune elevations vary depending on the day. Star Dune is the highest dune in North America in that rises 750 feet from the valley floor. High Dune has a higher elevation, but the valley floor is also higher. If you like sand and mountains, then you will like these pictures.
In the middle of Medano Creek.  (No water yet)
Looking towards High Dune and Mt. Herard
Mt. Herard and High Dune again
Heading towards Star Dune
I approached Star Dune by following a valley west of the ridge that leads to Star Dune. I had read that was the best approach, but I didn't bring the directions so I was never sure if I was in the right valley or not until I got high enough. I ended up climbing the ridge earlier than suggested and was greeted with a false summit. On the bright side, I wasn't off course.
In a valley between dune ridges.  The ridge on the right leads to Star Dune; however, Star Dune is not visible in this valley.
Star Dune from the last false summit
Looking back on the way I came from the top of Star Dune.
San Luis Valley and the San Juan Mountains
The Kit Carson and the Crestones on the left and Mt. Herard on the right.
Mt. Carbonate
Looking north from the top of Star Dune
Mt. Herard, Medano Pass, and Mt. Zwischen
The wind was picking up by the time I got to the summit of Star Dune. I took a bunch of pictures in between the major wind gusts. I didn't stay on top long though. The wind gusts were increasing in strength and frequency. It was beginning to feel like you were being sand blasted. I went down the eastern side of Star Dune. That side is pretty steep. It was easy going down, but it would be a booger going up that way.
Sand blowing off the top of a dune ridge
Looking back at Star Dune from the eastern side
The view of Star Dune while leaving the park.  It is not that clear due to all the wind.