Bob and Debby's Heartland Travels travel blog

Great Sand Dunes

CO 10 Road to Nowhere

Josh picked the 2007 Columbia Crest cabernet for dinner last night. Was very good and went well with the flat iron steak.

Today is a work day so I was up at 6:30 to work out at the gym before we left. We packed up our food, clothing etc. and were on the road by 9:00. Another warm, beautiful day.

We are going to the Great Sand Dunes National Park which really is NOT on the way to anything else in particular. However, it is a very unique environment with incredible sand dunes, high desert, wetlands and mountain alpines. We took CO 25 south from Denver through Pueblo to Walsenberg. CO 25 is a major 4 lane road which is good because we have a lot of driving to do today. With this in mind, we did not stop in Pueblo, a major CO industrial center, that purportedly has a very interesting WW II plane museum and revitalized waterfront. Sounded interesting but GSD was beckoning!

Walsenberg started out as a coal mining town and now is the portal to Hwy 160, the Highway of Legend, which leads to the GSD. (Not sure why it is called that!) Spanish Peaks, two 13,000 plus peaks that was declared a National Landmark in 1976, is very noticeable. Some say you can see it from Colorado Springs which is 133 miles away. The Utes called it “double breasts”. It was an obvious and important landmark for those who traveled the Santa Fe trail. Elevation is 7,400 in Walsenberg and increases to about 8,000 with trees waning to scrub as we climbed. We traveled over vast openland surrounded by the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage area that is close to 14,000 elevation. We kept seeing digital signs that had missing letters. We thought it said “caution wild life”. Along the way we saw many new “double-wide” trailers being transported. (They must be manufactured in Alamosa or a nearby region in western CO. ) At one point traffic stopped. Up ahead was the biggest wide load we have ever seen. (We think it was a huge draw bridge section. ) The sign meant to say “ caution wide loads.” LOL! Took Hwy 150 north to the park. We had driven 230 miles to get to the park.

As you drive Hwy 150 to the park you see what seems to be clouds at the base of the Sangre de Cristo but it soon becomes apparent that it is the sand dunes. Many are over 750 feet in height ( compared to their 14,000 plus) and they spread over 30 square miles. It really is a unique sight and worth the drive! There are all sorts of levels of hiking. Think of hiking 750 feet up on the beach (but you can slide down!) Depending on the time of year you may need 4 wheel drive to cross the creeks/rivers to access parts of the dunes. Time of year for travel is important as the temperature of the dunes can be 150 degrees in the summer and obviously freezing in winter. We did not hike but watched gthe 20 minute interactive movie. National Park Camping is wonderful. There is also wilderness camping. Had we not needed to move on to KS we would have stayed. Wonderful views.

We had to backtrack 70 miles to Walsenburg. (After 300 miles of driving Bob is not sure he liked the dunes well enough. Perhaps if we had camped it would have made a difference.) We want to make sure we have our “feed lot” tour in Larned, KS on Wed morning so we have to move on. We left on County Road 10 for La Junta, CO. The 2 lane road was the road to “nowhere”. Straight, flat and NOTHING on the horizon. We saw a few cattle/horses but can’t imagine they eat scrub. No buildings.

La Junta means “the junction” where the main and the southern routes of the Santa Fe Trail divided. Many state/federal highways meet here today. Bob drove 380 miles and we are in camp with 1 available spot left. Apparently there are many oil field workers who come and go. Is 89 degrees and the camp host says it will be freezing by Wed.!!

Dinner is left over spaghetti ( a first for left overs! ) and salad. Did have a good lunch of brisket/cole slaw and fresh pumpernickel from Walsenberg market! Not much near us but there is a Walmart and Dollar Store within a short walk! Much of today reminded us of West TX and Big Bend. Lots of miles of country.

Tonight we are having a 2008 Rombauer Merlot compliments of Jenny Bridges, Josh’s girlfriend. I only wish we had the beautiful flowers Jenny brought as well last night!

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