Photo tips for Great Sand Dunes NP

Old May 3rd, 2021, 06:52 PM
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Photo tips for Great Sand Dunes NP

Hi, everyone. I'm planning a family road trip out to Colorado in July. I'm going on a one-day excursion by myself to Great Sand Dunes National Park to take some pictures. Does anyone have any tips for photographing in the park? Best time of day to be there? Good vantage points? Any help would be appreciated.
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Old May 3rd, 2021, 07:26 PM
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Well, the only road access is on the east side so most pictures are from the east looking west. Morning favors this direction. Id scout out the area north of the campground.

Approaching from the south, with a powerful lens one could line up the dunes with snowy peaks as a backdrop. Midday would be best, or maybe sunset.
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Old May 4th, 2021, 06:25 AM
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I suggest early in the morning facing west or near dusk facing east. July is very hot down there, so if you want to explore the dunes in the heat of the day, be prepared with hat, sunblock, sunglasses and a lot of water.

I doubt we'll have snowy peaks in July.
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Old May 4th, 2021, 06:12 PM
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Thanks for the tips, tom_mn and Melnq8 ! My tentative plan is to get there mid-afternoon, spend the night, and stick around to explore in the morning. I'd definitely heard that the dunes can be brutal during the heat of the day.
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Old May 4th, 2021, 08:18 PM
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The only lodging is camping, or very limited rooms offsite. When we were there we got the last site about noon, there were no reserved sites.

Im not sure how anyone would photograph the dunes on the west side facing east without a half day backpacking trek from the east side all the way around skirting the dune field unless there is some off road vehicle track over there I doubt it.

Overnight rain makes climbing the dunes the next morning a snap.

Mosquitoes are a problem in the campground in July. We did not have hot weather. The creek flow restarts July 15th I think. The water before that is redirected to the east slope for agriculture till some date in July when it is turned back on and then flows through the park.

Last edited by tom_mn; May 4th, 2021 at 08:26 PM.
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Old May 5th, 2021, 05:31 AM
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As tom_mn said approaching from the south gives you views looking north over the dunes towards the 14,000' Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the background. That could be good either morning or evening.

This is a quick morning shot, in evening you could get good light on the mountains, and in July maybe monsoon clouds lighting up the sky.



One story of the name of the range, Sangre de Cristo = Blood of Christ = red glow of the mountains at dawn or dusk.
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Old May 6th, 2021, 03:11 AM
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What a gorgeous picture!!
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Old May 6th, 2021, 06:18 AM
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Thanks Gretchen! For the OP that shot was taken in late May, early morning, a year when there wasn't much snow on the mountains.
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Old May 6th, 2021, 04:55 PM
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Not to start a competition, but here are mine, one showing snow in early July. The other one is north of the campground.

1a


2a

Last edited by tom_mn; May 6th, 2021 at 05:18 PM.
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Old May 6th, 2021, 06:59 PM
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It's never a competition in my world, tom_mn, ... we both have great shots! Hope we helped the OP.
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Old May 6th, 2021, 07:20 PM
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Those are great shots, Nelson and tom_mn ! Really can't wait to get out there.
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