Nestled in southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park has North America's tallest dunes that rise over 750 feet high against the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The wind shaped dunes glow beneath the rugged backdrop of the mountains. This geologic wonderland, containing 30 square miles of dunes, became a national monument in 1932. With the passage of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000, resources now also include alpine lakes and tundra, six peaks over 13,000', ancient spruce and pine forests, large stands of aspen and cottonwood, grasslands, and wetlands--all habitat for diverse wildlife and Rocky Mountain plant species.

The campground at the base of the dunes sits at about 8000 feet so the air is already pretty thin. Hiked up to the Great Dune the next morning for the requisite summit shot.