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Beachfront property has never been so cheap in Colorado. Probably because there are no sailboats, waves, or chairlifts? You may wonder what on earth we’re talking about.
That would be Great Sand Dunes National Park: where beach and mountain life coexist. There aren’t many places in Colorado that offer the same kind of vista. And if you’ve made it this far, we encourage you to take the plunge. On a sandboard.
Let us set the scene: The snow around Denver and Boulder has nearly melted, and your backcountry ski friends have put their gear away for the summer. But here, even on the hottest days (uh, maybe avoid those), there are still slopes to be slayed. Just don’t expect a soft landing should you full send into a tomahawk (bring your body armor if you’ve never gone big, and instead gone home).
Let’s back up for a second, though, before we get to the good stuff. Great Sand Dunes National Park. This breathtaking site and adventurer’s bucket list item was a perfect storm of sediment deposited from mountain streams and wind into a large basin surrounded by spectacular heights. Did we mention these are the tallest dunes in North America? You kind of have to see them to believe they’re really in Colorado.
If the views don’t inspire you, then the thrill surely will. You’ll need every ounce of excitement to propel you up these calf-burning hills. The hike is unreal, but to make it worth the trip, you’ll also need a sandboard.
No, not your winter board — a sandboard or sand sled. Their unique construction and special wax make them fast on the hill and they’re more maneuverable than their cold-weather cousins (you’ll see what we mean). A few tips for the newbies: A fresh coat of wax and steady balance will go a long way in keeping your speed — the best when the sand is bone dry.
Keep your weight slightly back, tips up, and try your best to keep your belly laughs for the bottom, when you don’t run the risk of a mouthful of sand. Sunglasses are also highly recommended (and will make you look cooler).
Great Sand Dunes National Park is about a four-hour drive from the Boulder and Denver area. There are a couple local retailers, like Kristi Mountain Sports, who rent and sell sandboards and sand sleds for the special occasion. And we really, truly suggest you go all in. You won’t regret it!
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