Thursday, April 01, 2021

Camping near the Great Sand Dunes National Park

 Yep, back in Colorado after a very long day of driving yesterday.  The original plan had been to boondock at some BLM land in New Mexico near Angel Peak.

The site has been taken over by oil tanks/rigs/machinery, I'm guessing they got the mineral rights from the BLM and are developing the site?  Regardless, no campsites now, and I wasted an hour or so driving in and back out from the highway south of Farmington, NM!

So I kept going on US64, turning north on NM 17 eventually I discovered chosen US Forest Service campgrounds still covered in deep snow and I crossed over two passes, Cumbres and La Manga.  There was deep snow on the sides of the road but thankfully, the pavement was dry!

Now I was in Colorado and soon I ended up in Alamosa, at the Walmart there, where I would spend overnight in the parking lot.  I was the only RV there too, which was surprising.

This morning, I drove the VRRV towing the still broken Samurai the 23 miles or so to the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area and secured a nice pull-through spot in Loop A.  They even provide electricity and all for the cost of a Colorado Fishing License; which is the price one must pay to use State Wildlife Areas these days.

Those are the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Once camp was setup, I rode Yagi (good old reliable Yagi) to check out a couple of BLM sites about 15 miles away.  The one called Sacred White Shell Mountain BLM was basically just flat land that was near the base of Blanca Peak, the southernmost peak of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

Then I checked out the Zapata Falls Campground, you ascend a rough and rocky road to the campground so there's quite a change in altitude.  The camp sites were kind of small and the road condition being what it was, I didn't even check for cellular signal.

There was quite the amount of road work ongoing so the road condition might get better when they're done. 

I skipped the hike to the actual Zapata Falls, but it seemed quite popular as the small parking lot at the trail head was full of cars.

Next was an excursion into the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  I motored around and found what was labeled as a "primitive road" which took me about five miles further north, paralleling the Mendano Creek which borders the sand dunes basically on their east side.  The last mile or so was quite sandy!

I stopped at a picnic spot located near a pit toilet building called the Sand Pit, parked Yagi and walked a nearby dune to see what I could see:

Pano of the view from near the Sand Pit

As I was looking around, thinking this might be a doable spot for me to try some sand dune hiking tomorrow; I spotted a guy near the top of the steeper sand dunes to the north of me.

Can you see the guy?

I made it back out of the Primitive Road but not before a shot of the sand dunes where appropriate:

One last view of the sand dunes, near the park entrance:

Back at the campground:

Near sunset, I walked to the nearby lake as I'd spotted some water fowl moving about.  I got as close as I dared without spooking them and then used the zoom function on my camera.  Note: below photos have also been scaled up and post-production work applied.

I've no idea what kind of birds they are but I thought their narrow pointing bills were kind of cool and apparently used to burrow into the sand under the water's surface.

Tomorrow, it's supposed to be a few degrees warmer than today's high of 62 degrees, so it'll be better for hiking up the wind swept sand dunes, hopefully.


CCjon said...

The Sammy would have been the perfect vehicle for traversing those sandy roads. Next trip...
Interesting birds with their upward turned beaks... a type of sand piper?

Anonymous said...

I believe they are avocets.

redlegsrides said...

I found out this morning, you are correct! The American Avocet to be precise. Thanks.

redlegsrides said...

Indeed CCjon... indeed. Not sure Mariko is going on explorations in the future...I've trust issues right now you might say. The birds turned out to be American Avocets.... Saw their picture on that information sign on the way to the sand dunes this morning.