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This trip was all about sand dunes. I am always mesmerized by them, and can spend hours looking at the various shapes, lights and shadows. Occasionally, I also use a drone for more of a bird view, and it saves me a lot of time walking through sand! However, this is not always possible if the dunes are on a preserve or National Park, like in this case.
We landed the plane in Alamosa, the nearest city from the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Since it is out of the way driving for most people, it tends to be quiet. Most people rent board sled to go down on the slopes, but once you walk in a bit further inside the park, it is quiet and you can actually be alone. It is possible to spend the night in the dunes, which must be an amazing sight for astrophotography!
The dunes have been formed over thousands of years, as sand deposited by mountain streams and lakes on the valley floor is carried by southwest winds toward a low curve in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This makes for a great backdrop to the dunes.
The wind may pick up, and if that’s the case, you better be prepared to be pelted! It is best to carry a mask (this seems oddly familiar lately), perhaps a ski mask to protect your eyes, and refrain from changing lenses, as it would be nearly impossible to keep a sensor clean. As usual with dunes, the best time of the day would be sunrise or sunset, where the shadows are the longest. I imagine that a sun at its zenith would not create a dramatic light.
It is a place worth visiting, and I will certainly be back.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor