Trail Run Project Logo

Tallest Dunes Out-and-Back

Difficult
 4.7 (13) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A route through the most rigorous and beautiful parts of the Sand Dunes.


Your Rating:      Clear Rating
Your Difficulty:
Your Favorites: Add to Favorites · Your List
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

15.3

Miles

24.6

KM

95%

Runnable

8,705' 2,653 m

High

8,047' 2,453 m

Low

1,810' 552 m

Up

1,810' 552 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (3°)

10%

Max Grade (6°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildlife

Standard NPS regulations. Pets are permitted up to the top of the first tall ridge of dunes, between High Dune and Castle Creek Picnic Area.

Overview

A route that will take you from the main parking lot to High Dune, Star Dune, and Highest Dune.

Need to Know

Bring lots of water, sunscreen, and potentially an umbrella. Don't bring your pets.

Runner Notes

Only the very crazy and expert trail runners should attempt this.

Description

Start in the parking lot. Once you cross the creek, you'll need to look for the tallest dune you can see. It should be right in front of you. Work your way up to the top of High Dune. It is best to zig zag, or switchback so you do not get overly exhausted. Now remember that there is no real trail, it is all sand, so don't get lost.

Once on top of High Dune, follow the ridge down to the SW, and after a little ways you'll need to do some switchbacks down into a little valley. After that, you'll start a the climb up to Star Dune. This climb is also steeper, so use switchbacks.

Once on top of Star Dune, you can follow its northern arm out, and then branch off to the east. Just follow the sand field to the NE, and try to stay on flatter ground. After a ways (6.2 miles), you'll come between two dunes, after this is your ascent of Highest Dune. Switchback your way up this one also. Highest Dune is much higher then Star Dune, or High Dune. This is only because it sits at a much higher elevation (2,650+ feet), but the actual sand portion is smaller.

To return, just head back the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

Sand. Sand. Sand.

History & Background

The Great Sand Dunes have formed over thousands of years, that is the speculation at least. No one is quite sure because there is no good way to date sand.

Contacts

Shared By:

Isaac Bozeman

Trail Ratings

  4.7 from 13 votes

#817

Overall
  4.7 from 13 votes
5 Star
69%
4 Star
31%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#160

in Colorado

#817

Overall
62 Views Last Month
1,743 Since Sep 5, 2018
Difficult

0%
0%
8%
0%
92%
0%

Photos

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Apr 1, 2020 near Crestone, CO
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Apr 1, 2020 near Crestone, CO
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Apr 1, 2020 near Crestone, CO
mt herard from dunefield
Apr 1, 2020 near Crestone, CO
blue medano
Apr 1, 2020 near Crestone, CO
In the gully just below High Dune.
Apr 4, 2021 near Crestone, CO

0 Comments

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 19 days ago See History
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

none