Colorado Vacations 
Family Travel Colorado 
Your Guide to Visiting Colorado with the Kids
Towns Near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Photo: The world's biggest 
sandbox is in Colorado. 

At the
Great Sand Dunes
National Park
and Preserve
kids can play
for hours
in Medano Creek,
near the base
of the dunes.

Photo: The dunes have been piling up for centuries near the base of the mountains. 

Did You Know?

The Great Sand Dunes National Park offers the best place in North America to see a rare hydrological phenomenon called surge flow.

During the spring runoff, when the creek at the foot of the dunes swells, ripples grow into sand waves or bores, which can be an inch high or a foot deep.

These bores roll downstream, and create endless entertainment for kids and their parents playing in the water.

Tiny Mosca, 23 miles southeast of the visitor center on Colorado State Route 17, has a gas station, a restaurant, a post office and a motel. Colorado Gators, a “family oriented, recreational, and educational farm”, raises and shows live alligators between Mosca and Hooper, the next town to the north. Contact them at 719/378-2612 or

Hooper, seven miles north of Mosca, has a gas station with a convenience store and a restaurant, called My Sistor’s Place, plus a park with a playground and a post office. Less than a mile north of town, the Sand Dunes Swimming pool and RV Park offers swimming in artesian hot springs water. Call 719 / 378-2807 for information or check the website at

Just over 34 miles south and east of the national park’s visitor center, the town of Alamosa lies at the junction of US Highway 285 and US Highway 160. With a population of nearly 8500 people and the San Luis Valley Regional Airport, it is the hub of this southern Colorado breadbasket.

The Spanish word, alamosa, means full of cottonwood trees, and shady Cole Park, along the Rio Grande River, has its share. The park is home to a big modern playground, skate park, picnic tables, restrooms with drinking water, a library, and a post office, The Alamosa Tourism’s visitor center is located in the little train depot here.

A variety of fast food and sit down restaurants offer families several choices for grabbing a bite, while private and chain motels provide a showers and a pillow for your head. Safeway, City Market, and a Wal-Mart Supercenter have groceries and other necessities. The San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center, located at 106 Blanca Avenue in Alamosa, has valley-wide ambulance service and a level III trauma center.

Museums in town include the San Luis Valley Museum, with ranch life, narrow gauge train and history exhibits, and the Luther E. Bean Museum, located at Adams State College, which features Native American, Hispanic, and other local art. Contact the chamber of commerce at 719/589-3681 or or the Alamosa Visitor center at 800/258-7597.