Created by winds that sweep the San Luis Valley floor, the enormous sand dunes that form the heart of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve are an improbable, unforgettable sight. The dunes, as curvaceous as Rubens's nudes, stretch for more than 30 square miles. Because they're made of sand, the dunes' very existence seem tenuous, as if they might blow away before your eyes, yet they're solid enough to have withstood 440,000 years of Mother Nature—and the modern stress of hikers and saucer-riding thrill seekers.

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