Great Sand Dunes National Park is, in our opinion, extremely underrated. You’ve got the tallest sand dunes in America, killer sand sledding, awesome trails, some of the country’s best stargazing, and a natural waterslide in Medano Creek. Not too shabby, huh?
Medano Creek is of particular interest during the late spring and early summer. The creek is fed by snowmelt from the Sangre de Christo Mountains and rainwater, which explains the varying water levels. It’s also a creek without a riverbed, instead flowing through shifting sand. It’s currently peaking and is reaching record-breaking levels in 2017. There are also rare surgeflows happening, thanks to increased water levels. This is when a ridge of sand underwater builds up, then is knocked down, causing a small wave.
While it can be as wide across as 90 feet (including sand bars), it’s never deeper than about 20 inches, and can be as shallow as one inch in places. That makes it safe for kids, and perfect for tubing, sand castle building, and, if you can catch a surge flow, body surfing. The NPS says that water is highest at dawn and lowest at dusk, so if you’re planning a visit, stop by earlier in the day for the best experience.
As the water warms up into July, it attracts mosquitos, and by the time August rolls around, the creek is more or less reduced to a trickle for the rest of the year. If you’re looking for a good reason to take a road trip, this is pretty much perfect! Just remember water shoes and a swim suit.