If you're looking at the above picture and wondering "Lizzie, where the hell did you find sand in Colorado?" then you'd be asking the same question I had a few months ago when I first discovered Great Sand Dunes National Park. That's right, you no longer have to set your sights on Egypt if you want to find some sand dunes for that Star Wars parody you've been working on! Look no further than central Colorado!
Great Sand Dunes National Park is about 45 minutes away from Alamosa, Colorado, and is basically a giant pile of sand amidst mountains and grassland. Even now, having been there, I still sort of question its existence, so it's definitely something you kind of just have to see for yourself. There's over 30 square miles of dune field, and 300 square miles of sand in the San Luis Valley where the park is located, and you can literally see these dunes for miles. We saw them on all sides, other than the portion up against the mountains, and even from a distance they are impressive.
The Dunes, as we learned, were formed hundreds of years ago when a volcano erupted and sand formed in the San Luis Valley. Strong winds then moved the sand, but the mountains blocked it from going further, therefore forcing the sand to pile up along the base of the mountains. With further winds, which are definitely still there today, the dunes were formed. There isn't much new sand forming in the dunes, but they continue to be a crucial part of a very unique ecosystem that consists of snow, rivers, grassland, mountains, and, of course, sand.
Oh, and since I'm sure you were wondering, you can sled down it, just like Rey does in The Force Awakens. For months we've been anticipating our trip down the dunes, since we grew up sledding on snow, and this just seemed too good to be true. However, unless Rey had some wax for that board of hers on Jakku, I doubt it would have worked as well as it did. Sand is much more finicky than snow, and you do have to rent specialized boards for it to work, but it's well worth it!
We spent about two and a half hours pretending to be on Jakku and Tatooine before the day was through, and my only other comment is that I have no idea how Finn ever survived. I barely walked a mile in the intense heat over the Dunes and had to stop multiple times...and almost ran out of water. I don't blame him for drinking out of the watering trough. I don't blame him one bit.
I also want to emphasize once more (and you'll hear this again later on) the importance of visiting our National Parks here in America. They're celebrating their 100th anniversary this year and it's a spectacular time to visit some of the most stunning and inspiring sights anywhere in the world. Previous to a few months ago I couldn't have dreamed about ever setting foot on a sand dune, and now I've done that, seen trees millions of years old, and hiking to the top of a Mesa. Go Find Your Park on the official website of the National Park Service, because after all, the wilderness must be explored!
Have a magical day!