Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

On September 23 & 24, 2017, I explored Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

I spent day 1 exploring the dune field and shooting photos. The landscape was surreal, and felt like I was on another planet. I hiked to the top of the tallest dune, at 750 feet, and as the sun set I noticed a man on a far away dune, silhouetted against the sun. I decided that I’d make my way to him and see who he was. After a challenging hour of hiking up and down slippery dunes I finally reached the dune that he was on. As I usually do, I snapped a few photos of him from a distance, to give to him, so he could have some shots of his experience in the park. Upon reaching him at the peak of the dune, I saw him shooting on a pro level Nikon D850, so I assumed he was a professional. Turns out, he is, and he shoots for Nikon and guides tours for photographers! His name is Herman van Heuvelen and I was super happy to have met him. We started chatting and ended up hiking together for the remainder of the evening, and then we decided to trudge back into the park, and shoot night photos of the Milky Way, in the frigid fall nighttime air, while standing in the middle of a freezing cold stream. I’ll never forget it!

My silhouette of Herman van Heuvelen
My silhouette of Herman van Heuvelen

On Day 2 I hiked the mountains that surround the dunes as well as hiked to Zapata Falls. I departed Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve on September 25th and drove over Independence Pass into Aspen to explore the Maroon Bells mountains.

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