Dunes Overlook Trail

Dunes Overlook Trail was our favorite hike within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes National Park. This trail was fairly short at around 2.75 miles roundtrip. However, there is consistent elevation gain, which may pull this hike into the moderate realm. It can also be very hot to hike during the middle of the day. To avoid this, we decided to hike to the overlook in time for sunset. This proved to be the right decision as it was beautiful and just the right temperature.

This hike starts right in the campground on loop 2. There is a sign for the trail, as well as a few parking spaces just north of the bathroom. Another reason you should hike in the morning or evening is so you can find a parking place. We parked and crossed the road to the trailhead. There is a large trailhead sign, so you can’t miss it.

There are about 4 spaces next to the bathrooms.
This sign is directly across from the bathrooms, so it is easy to find the trailhead.

The Dunes Overlook Trail starts off headed north. There is a bit of climbing as it winds back and forth up the low hills. We found this area to be quite pretty, with low scrubby trees, and a rocky trail, rather than the sand that covers a good portion of this area. This was much more a forest hike than a beach walk. We even saw two very large bucks (male deer) in the twilight. The third reason to hike in the morning or evening is that you might see some animals.

Dunes Overlook Trail heads away from the campground.
This is the terrain you hike through on this trail.
The bucks were beautiful!
The trail is a steady climb, but not steep.
Some of the views of the sand dunes along the way are better than the overlook.

The trail is never very steep, but it does climb steadily to a viewpoint. This ridge looks out to the west over the sand dunes. Hence the name, Dunes Overlook Trail. We didn’t find the view of the sand dunes itself to be very spectacular, though it was okay, but the sunset was really amazing. Make sure to walk out toward the dunes where there are a few benches to enjoy the view.

The trail keeps going up until the end.
There are a few junctions, so make sure to follow the signs.
The overlook has a few benches to enjoy the views.
Hiking at sunset was the right deciosn.
We took a lot of great photos.
We loved the Dunes Overlook trail.

Of course, the Dunes Overlook Trail is an out-and-back trail. Since we watched the sunset, we had to hustle back before it got too dark. This wasn’t difficult, and we made it easily before full dark. Then we stayed in the park for some night sky viewing. To read more about Great Sand Dunes National Park, check out our family guide.

Leave a Reply