There is a place in Colorado that not a lot of people know of. A place where the tallest dunes in North America reside surrounded by a flow of summer melting water from the snow peaks of Mount Herard. A place where you can find yourself surrounded by epic mountains, huge golden sand dunes and a blanket of stars at night. Colorado has incredible things to offer for any landscape photographer, but what really caught my attention the first time I planned to visit the state was the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It would have taken us almost 2 days just to visit the dunes so a year after that I decided to go back to Colorado and pay a visit the land of the dunes.
The dunes are a two-hour scenic drive from Colorado Springs. Once in the park, everything you see is accompanied by the incredible view of the giant dunes in the background. To camp at the dunes, we had to get a permit from the park ranger and follow some specific rules. At first, the hike didn’t seem hard but after 25 minutes of steep slopes, our legs began to cry. After 45 minutes we arrived at the highest dune which was 750 feet from the floor and had to place our tent hidden out of sight so it doesn’t affect the majestic view of the dunes. This place has one of the most amazing sunset views I have seen, the golden light that emerged from the horizon turned all the sand into golden curves and Mount Herard was in perfect position west from the sunset making it more colorful thanks to the falling sun. On my trips, I always make sure I get a new moon so I can do astrophotography and shot the milky way but for this trip I decided to use a full moon to my advantage and illuminate the landscape at night so I could capture the Mount Herald with the dunes and the stars at the same time. This was my first time trying this technique, I never imagined how much the moon could light up a night shot.
Visiting this place and staying overnight is an experience everyone should have. If you are a landscape photographer, make sure to study the moon and the position of the milky way so you can get an amazing composition of Mount Herard and the night sky.
All images were taken with a Fujifilm XT-1 and processed in Adobe Lightroom.