We left New Mexico earlier than anticipated due to the crazy snow. A lot of people love New Mexico, but that wasn’t our experience. We are going back in a few months – hopefully New Mexico will win us over then! We made it to the BLM land outside of Great Sand Dunes we had picked out and it was a great spot for us. We had gorgeous mountain views all around and we were really close to Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Boondocking on White Shell Mountain
The week was a typical work week for us. Work during the day and explore in the evenings. The difference here was the CRAZY wind!!! It was so windy that we were bringing our slides in and out all week. One day we had gusts of 67MPH. It was crazy!!! The dust storms that accompanied the wind were crazy too – somehow the dust was finding it way inside the RV!!
One weird thing was this bus that was parked near us when we got there. We never saw anyone there, but they had their chairs and tables and more set up. A third RV was there so when they were packing up Austin asked them if they had seen the bus people. They said they had left a day before we got there to go to the store and they hadn’t seen them since. We thought this was weird and weren’t exactly sure what to do about it. They had a 4 wheeler with a for sale sign on it so after another day we ended up calling the number to make sure they were ok! Luckily everything was fine. The guy seemed a little weirded out that we called to check on him, but it was totally worth it for the peace of mind knowing everything was ok!
We are loving boondocking on the BLM lands out west. Until this stay our longest had been 6 nights. However, this stay was part of a 10 night stretch of being off the grid (a record for us)! We have a 100 gallon fresh water tank and 50 gallon grey (sink and shower water) and black (toilet) tanks. Between showering and cooking just about every night, our grey tank is usually what limits us. We had an idea and while we were here we implemented it. We rigged up a bilge pump to an extra battery we had. Then, we stop up the shower and pump out the water and pour it down the toilet. It was awesome! We were able to shower as much as we wanted!
Great Sand Dunes Attempt 1
We picked this boondocking spot because it is super close to Great Sand Dunes National Park. After a productive work week, we set off to explore the park. Saturday morning we were driving to the park and hit sooo much traffic. It is Memorial Day Weekend and everyone else has the same idea as us!! We decided that we would do something else and come back tomorrow as opposed to sitting in a mile of standstill traffic to get into the park. So, we went to the nearby Zapata Falls instead.
The road to the trailhead was a little bumpy, but not too bad. The hike is an easy .9 mile hike that leads you to a stream. Then, you hike up the stream to get to the waterfall. It was a super snowy winter so the snow melt is crazy all over the state. The stream and waterfall were both really flowing! We hiked up the stream to the falls and were surprised to see there was still a lot of ice! We enjoyed the falls and explored the area a bit before hiking back to the Jeep.
Great Sand Dunes Attempt 2
That Sunday morning we got an earlier start and headed into Great Sand Dunes NP. We stopped by the visitor center before heading on the 4-wheel drive only Medano Pass Primitive Road road in our Jeep. It was great to be on the primitive road since the park was so busy on the holiday weekend. We had a blast driving Medano Pass Road! We drove as far as we could while crossing three different streams (I drove across one!) before the road closed and we had to turn around. Right after we turned around to head back, we came across a group of Bighorn sheep – with their babies! It was so neat to see them so close. We watched them for a while before heading back to hike the dunes.
Busy Memorial Day at Great Sand Dunes
The main parking lot was CRAZY busy so we planned to park in one of the pull off spots off the primitive road to hike the dunes. Unfortunately, a lot of other people had this idea too. The parking lots were really small and there were no spots. We were sitting there waiting on a spot to open at the Castle Creek area when Austin had a brilliant idea! There was a little space perpendicular to the handicap spot (which was open) behind a shrub. The Jeep is so small that it fit with no problem!! We were able to park and explore while countless other cars had to keep driving. Way to go Austin!
The dune hike was so much harder than I thought it would be!! The part we climbed from Castle Creek was seemingly straight up the dune. We would climb for a little then sit on the side of the dune to catch our breath. It was SUCH a tough climb, but it was totally worth it! Once we finally reached the top, we only saw one other person (everyone else was too smart to scale the vertical dune). We had the view to ourselves and it was incredible. We enjoyed the view for a while before heading back to the Jeep. It is time for lunch!
Great Sand Dunes National Park was way cooler than I thought it would be. We were there at a great time of year to be able to see the Medano Creek flowing. The sand dunes against the blue sky was a sight to behold as well. If you are anywhere close to this park, I highly recommend stopping!