This is a wild area, do not feed or approach the animals especially the black bears. The ecosystem here is fragile and easily damaged so please stay on the trails, except where dune access is allowed. The trails are very primitive and steep in spots and footing can be difficult. Be aware of the weather and watch for rapid changes. If a thunderstorm occurs seek shelter immediately. The sand can reach temperatures of 140 degrees F so prepare accordingly. Drink lots of water. The visitors center is over 8000 feet in elevation and mountain peaks are up to 14,000 be extra careful if you are not used to higher elevations.
Yes, All this seems obvious, but we saw people who ran out of their cars toward the dunes unaware of just how far they were going to be walking. We saw others coming back panting and turning pink .. ouch!
It is easy to end up pretty far away from where you started, just by trying to climb up the next big peak. The views are wonderful.
We had an all wheel drive rental and we got to a point where it was touch and go if we would be able to get out of the soft sand on the road that follows the river.
Even though there appeared to be mesh along the road under the sand, it was a bit scary when your forward momentum just stops and you need to somehow reverse out of there. Had I actually got the 4WD I reserved I may have felt more confident. However, having the AWD and high clearance made it possible for us to go places that the family car might not.
The original visitor center that is shown has been updated. During days when visitation is low the entry station is not used and you have to pay for the entry fee at the visitors center. It is something of an honor system at these times but remember it is your use fees that pay for upkeep, education about the park, and law enforcement.
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