Lovely readers, today I’m bringing you a guest post from my friends over at Explore the USA. I’ve been ramping up my travel writing lately, but one area I am woefully unversed in is adventure sports and hiking! Explore the USA houses a great many articles on can’t miss US wilderness areas and the fun to be hard at them for those with a fearless mindset. I hope you enjoy this article on one of the newest adventure sports: sandboarding!
Come winter time, Colorado and its snowy towns nestled in the Rocky Mountains are a mecca for snowboarding, skiing, and even sledding fanatics. However, those winter sports don’t end once the snow melts; it just takes a different form in a different spot. Colorado is quickly becoming a hot spot for the so-called “next big thing” in adventure sports: sandboarding. Much like snowboarding, sandboarding involves shredding massive powdering mounds, but utilizes sand as its medium instead of snow. Like the winter sport, sandboarding is also paired with its close cousins, sand skiing and sand sledding.
One might expect sandboarding to be more popular in the more hot and arid regions of Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and maybe even parts of Texas. It is, certainly, but Colorado has the perfect playground for this particular sport nestled within its borders. Thanks to thousands of years of wind sweeping over the San Luis Valley, the major sand dunes in Great Sand Dune National Park have soared as high as 750 feet against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in south-central Colorado. For some hikers, it is a beautiful and unexpected landscape to see in Colorado, but for the sandboarder, they are some of the most premium peaks, just ripe for the shredding.
Sadly, there are no lifts for sandboarders, meaning how many runs one can squeeze in depends on the fitness level of the boarder. However, it is an adventure of a lifetime for those that find themselves bored during the winter sports’ off-season.
A day of sandboarding starts with the right equipment and the right conditions. Sandboards are made special for the sport, made from fiberglass like their snow cousins, but of a particular shape and size in order to easily slide through the sand without digging in. Most of the campgrounds in Great Sand Dunes National Park provide sandboard rental for those that want to give it a go for the day. Those that want to pick up a sandboard of their very own can find them sold in shops like nearby Kristi Mountain Sports in Alamosa.
Getting the gear ready is the easy part, though. The reason this particular national park is so popular for sandboarding is because the sport requires the sand to be at least a little damp. So while states down south may have more sand, it is often too dry and soft to allow the board to slide. Since Colorado gets reasonable amounts of rain, the sand is often perfect for boarding. In Great Dunes National Park, any area of the dune field is open for sandboarding, providing people do it away from vegetation for their own safety. Visitors merely need to pick out a sand dune and scramble their way to the top. After conquering the bunny hill, visitors are sure to have a thirst for bigger and better challenges, which the park can and will deliver.
Those looking for the biggest challenge will find it in the form of the 300-foot slope past the Castle Creek Picnic Area. It’s a long walk, but those with four-wheel-drive can access it via the Medano Pass Primitive Road.
Sandboarding sounds easy enough and more than exciting enough for the serious adrenaline junkie; however, visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park are urged to take care. Snow is soft and usually powdery enough to not be so bad to wipe out on, but sand is as abrasive as tiny crushed rocks. Combined with breezy summer wear, those who take too many risks on it are likely to go home with slightly less skin.
Slightly less skin? No wonder my adventures usually involve trying out unknown foods on my plate rather than sand dune slopes! But I must admit, sandboarding really does sound fun. If you’d like to see more of Explore the USA’s articles on outdoor exploration in Colorado, start out here to journey up one of Rocky Mountain National Park’s steepest and most breathtaking trails: Click me!
And you know I can’t leave an article pictureless on this site, so here’s one of me at the Jockey’s Ridge sand dunes on the Outer Banks two summers ago. Let’s just say a famous flight took off from those dunes back in 1903; sand dunes have been inspiring inventiveness for a long time!
Me with the sunset to my back.