Great Sand Dunes National Park

"In Search Of Medano Creek" (Great Sand Dunes National Park - May 6, 2006)

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Great Sand Dunes National Park

After hiking the Mosca Pass Trail, I was ready to have an adventure with the dunes. One of my hopes was to see Medano Creek running with water along the sand dunes. The best chance to see that is in the spring, when the snow is melting in the mountains.
Sadly, Medano Creek was not running at the main entrance to the dunes. See that large flat area that approaches the dunes? That is the creek bed for Medano Creek!

Looking way up the creek from the visitor center, I could see water running upstream. It was only a 15 to 20 minute hike up the creek bed to reach the water.

Great Sand Dunes National Park One picture of the beautiful blue sky and clouds above the Great Sand Dunes.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Walking in the creek bed, I snapped this shot of some cottonwoods with the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in the background.
Great Sand Dunes National Park Hooray! There it is. Medano Creek! :)
Medano Creek Now this is definitely an odd geological feature, and it happens to many of the creeks in the San Luis Valley. Medano Creek sort of "vanishes" - It actually sinks into the ground and contributes to a large aquifer below the San Luis Valley. Eventually, this water will somehow meet up with the Rio Grande, the main tributary river in the valley.
Medano Creek The water wasn't much, but it was quite pleasant to see. During this visit to the dunes, I was not in the mood to do any major hiking on the dunes themselves. Enjoying Medano Creek was quite a treat though.
Medano Creek One more shot.
Medano Creek Folks, the Great Sand Dunes is one of those places that I think everyone needs to see once in their lifetime.

-Photos by Steve Garufi in Buena Vista, Colorado. His web site is

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