After Rocky Mountain National Park we drove to Westcliff. Once again, Elizabeth found an amazing home for us to stay for the remainder of our time in Colorado! It was a beautiful three-story home with panoramic views of the mountains. I wish I had taken more photos of the home and location, as it was truly spectacular. The home was outside the town of Westcliff about 8 miles. We had to take some rugged dirt roads to get there, through open range fields where we saw buffalo, deer, and antelope. It made the adventure even more interesting just getting to the rental home! Here are some photos from the home, of the few I took.
The house we rented was called “Surveyors Peak”. It got that name because years ago (1952) when surveyors were plotting the land in the valley of this region they did so from this exact property. Right outside the house drilled into the rock was a brass plaque that said that this is where the surveying took place. Here is a photo of that brass plaque.
The Great Sand Dunes is a National Park located right next to Westcliff. However, there are two entrances to the park, one is the long way and the other the short way. The short way was deemed impassable because several creeks had flooded the dirt roadway. Elizabeth and Phillip actually took this venture for a second trip out the park. They are brave! We stuck to the main road, even if it was the long way and took an hour to an hour and a half. Well worth the drive to see this National Park! Even though this one is not as visited as some of the other national parks it was still quite busy in my opinion. It was such a cool experience! These sand dunes are the largest in the United States. You can hike them and sled them. Yes, sled on them! We rented sleds that are made specifically for sand sledding. We rented them near the Sand Dunes at a store named Kristie’s: http://kristimountainsports.com/ The kids especially enjoyed the sledding. By kids, I mean the Dads and their children. It isn’t quite like sledding on snow and takes some practice. You have to balance just right and lean back enough to get some speed. Charlie seemed to master it the best in our family. Who knew I two-year old would figure it out better than we did!
The views at the Great Sand Dunes are majestic. It was hot. In the research I did for the trip it said “you will burn”. I put on layers of SPF 75, used an umbrella, and I still burned! The sand is highly reflective which makes burning your skin very probable. I would suggest wearing rash guard apparel that has SPF protection, along with a hat. Our kids cooled off in the “river”. There is a river that flows just at the base of the sand dunes. It can get over a foot deep at some times of the year. While we were there it was 1-6 inches deep. It was just enough to get my kids good and muddy. They had fun though and it was a perfect way to cool off. Below are our photos from the Great Sand Dunes.