Colorado Road Trip (2): Great Sand Dunes National Park, a Living Hourglass

August 6, 2011

Approaching Great Sand Dunes National Park under threatening skies, with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background.

View of the dunes from our campground

“The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a living hourglass where the ebb and flow of rushing wind and pulsing water sweep across the landscape, creating a national sculpture worthy of permanent preservation.”
— Gale A. Norton, Secretary of the Interior, 2004

Great Sand Dunes National Park is our country’s newest national park; it was given national park status in 2004.  It feels like an anomaly in the high mountain landscape.  The shifting piles of sand create beautifully sculpted forms of light and shadow.  I wish we had given ourselves more time to sit and let this special landscape work on our souls:

“One of the qualities that draws me to deserts is their sparseness.  I go to be scoured by their winds, purged by their silence, humbled by their searing sunsets. . . .  As the earth stands naked, so I am stripped to my unadorned self, with little to distance me from the truths of my life.”
— Michael Benanav, Men of Salt

Nearing sunset with hikers still on the dunes

Dunes in the fading evening light

Early morning hikers cast long shadows as they ascend.

Sculpted dunes

Shadows and light

Tracks and ripples

Footprints in the sands of time

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints in the sand of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, from “A Psalm of Life”

“Their appearance was exactly that of the sea in a storm, except as to color, not the least sign of vegetation existing thereon.”
— Zebulon Pike, Journals January 28, 1807



4 Responses to “Colorado Road Trip (2): Great Sand Dunes National Park, a Living Hourglass”

  1. Those images will stay in my mind.

  2. Madge Says:

    Your first photo titled ‘Sculptured Dunes,’ is superb!

  3. Renee Says:

    All I can say is Wow. Beautiful photos. Never heard of this national park but if I’m ever in Colorado I must take a trip to see the dunes

  4. […] Colorado Road Trip (2): Great Sand Dunes National Park, a Living Hourglass, August 6, 2011 […]

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