Hiking the dunesExploring the sand dunes is a must do when visiting this national park. The park entrance is $15 for a week. Hiking is best in the morning or closer to sunset. That’s because the sand is scorching during the heat of day. Just make sure you bring bug spray we noticed as the sun went down we were swarmed with mosquitoes!
Also, bring plenty of water and be prepared for a workout hauling yourself to the top of one of the dunes is no small task you will slide with every step causing double the work. And remember: there aren’t any maintained trails. I carried my phone inside my jacket in an attempt to keep the sand out, but a plastic bag would have been better. I ended up finding grit in various places and it took awhile to clean.
Daytime activities include splashing in Medano Creek, which is always a blast. The water flow changes throughout the year, too. You could have plenty of rushing water or only a small trickle. When we were there, the creek was very cool and reached just below our knees, making for an easy crossing to the dunes.
Driving up Medano Pass Primitive RoadIf you have a capable 4-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance, driving up Medano Pass Primitive Road will give you another unique perspective into these lands. You’ll have to navigate creek crossings, deep sand, rocks, and other obstacles.
You may even need to deflate your tire pressure to 20 psi when the sand is soft and dry. There’s a free air station in the Amphitheater parking lot, but bringing your own air compressor is a smart move. We didn't know this when we went back so we didn't chance going back as far as some of the other jeeps, being in a bigger Dodge truck and no cell service didn't want to chance it this time. But next time we go up we will be prepared!
The camping at Pinon Flats looks really neat a lot of the sites have views of the sand dunes and I bet the sunset and sunrises are remarkable.
Has anyone been to the Sand Dunes? Have any tips for hiking up the dunes? Or favorite camping sites at Pinon Flats?