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Alamosa in Colorado’s San Luis Valley makes an ideal base for exploring Alamosa National Wildlife Reserve and Great Sand Dunes National Park. The town itself has an excellent theater and offers several scenic train trips on the Rio Grande and Cumbres and Toltec railroads.

Flowers in Great Sand Dunes National Park, near AlamosaThe highlight of the region, however, is the Great Sand Dunes National Park where the tallest dunes in North America are set against the backdrop of the craggy Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Sand blown east from the San Juan Mountains formed the dunes over millions of years and the dampness of the sand just below the surface has ensured the general shape of the dunes has remained unchanged in centuries.

The climb to the top of the dunes is incredibly tiring but well worth the effort for the superb views over the surrounding landscape. While you pause for breath look out for the giant sand-treader camel cricket and the small kangaroo rat, both of whom make their home in this desolate spot.

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