While many National Parks have some similarities in terms of features and selections, Great Sand Dunes National Park offers two things that most others do not: towering dunes and a great deal of dog-friendliness. Aside from exploring the tallest dunes in North America, pets and their owners can also explore the surrounding forests, grasslands, and lakes, many of which have their own functions, according to Matt Davies Harmony Communities.

Of course, in the summer, the sand temperatures can rise to 150 degrees at midday, but other than that, you’ll have little to worry about other than having a great time in this unique and stunning natural setting. Let’s take a look at how to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park with pets.

Discovering Great Sand Dunes National Park with Your Pets

Unlike most other national parks, Great Sand Dunes allow leashed pets in the park’s day-use regions. This includes the dune field playroom, Pion Flats Campground, the Medano Pass Primitive Road, and Dunes Overlook Trail. Pets are also welcome on the neighboring national preserve, including the Mosca Pass Trail. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times, and owners are responsible for cleaning up after them.

Pets are not permitted in the national park’s backcountry areas. But that’s more than sufficient to keep you and your canine travel companion busy!

Pet Safety at Great Sand Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You’ll need to take some measures to keep your pets safe depending on the time of year you take a trip.

  • During the summer, the sand’s surface temperature can reach 150°F. If it’s too hot for you to stroll barefoot, your dog will too.
  • Adapt to higher elevations gradually. Altitude sickness can affect both you and your pet at elevations ranging from 8,200 to 13,600 feet. Plan to take it easy and minimize overexertion if you’re not used to the reduced oxygen levels.
  • Dehydration is common at higher elevations. Bring plenty of water for you and your pets and keep an eye out for indications of dehydration in your pets.
  • Storms of rain and wind can happen at any time of year. Prepare to shield your pet’s eyes from sandstorms.
  • The park is home to a variety of wildlife. Always be mindful of your environment and keep food and scented items in your vehicle or in bear-proof bins in Pion Flats Campground or along Medano Pass Primitive Road.

What Can Pets Do in Great Sand Dunes?

It would be simple to spend a long holiday with your pets enjoying the attractions and natural beauty of Great Sand Dunes.

Explore the Beauty of Dunes

Begin your hike up High Dune for a panoramic view of the dune field. This 2.5-mile round-trip hike gains nearly 700 feet in elevation and is most impressive at sunrise and sunset when the dune ridges set their shadows. High Dune takes about 2 hours to hike roundtrip. However, if you haven’t acclimated to the altitude, it could take up to 4 hours.

Try Sandboarding or Sandsledding

If you don’t feel like hiking through the sand, lease a sled or a sandboard for a thrilling ride down the smaller dunes. It is important to note that the National Park does not rent sandboards or sleds. Rentals are available from local retailers, but some are up to a 45-minute drive from the dunes. Plan to rent your equipment before arriving at the park.

Enjoy Medano Creek

Medano Creek is a short walk from the parking area and a great place to cool off. Because the creek is fed by precipitation and snowmelt, the depths vary seasonally. For many years, the creek has run from April to June, creating a one-of-a-kind beach environment. Surge flow is a phenomenon that causes waves in the water. Water spikes similar to beach waves are induced by sand mounds forming and dropping in the creek bed.


Hopefully, Matt Davies Harmony Communities have piqued your interest in visiting this pet-friendly national park! Make sure you are aware of the place so that you and your pet can enjoy it.