Ken Papaleo: X Marks the Shot: Great Sand Dunes National Park Photos - near Alamosa, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park Photos - near Alamosa, Colorado

“X Shot” Information

Camera - Canon EOS Mark III
ISO - 250
Lens - Canon 16 - 35 zoom
F/stop - 16.0
Shutter - 1/125 sec.

I have always enjoyed driving on State Route 17, due south, strait as a nail and cruise-control all the way. Turning east on County Lane 6 North, I could see the Great Sand Dunes National Park ahead. The park is nestled against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains boasting the tallest dunes in North America, some almost 800 feet high. When I got out of my jeep it was too windy to take any chances with my camera gear, so I had some lunch and read part of a book. When the winds became still, hours later, I set out towards the dunes. I took a Canon 5D with a 16 - 24 zoom and my Mark III with a 70-200 zoom and some extra flash cards. The evening light was perfect as the sun started its decent.  I saw great color and enjoyed shooting, until the sun disappeared behind the western horizon. I spent the night in Alamosa and returned the next morning by 6:30 am to catch the first rays of sunrise. One thing I forgot is the park’s proximity to the  mountains on its eastern side; sunrise wasn’t until about 8 am. Taking the same gear as I did yesterday, I climbed about half way up, found a spot and waited for the sun.  I hoped that other visitors would be arriving soon for use in my photos but it remained deserted. Without people, I noticed how peaceful it was, not a sound . As I walked around, my shadow made some interesting images so I used it to make a couple of nice pictures. By 9:30 am I was on my way home because I didn’t like the limited morning light at this time of the year. So if you visit in the fall, I would recommend shooting in the late afternoon and early evening light when there is more time.

“X Shot” Location Information.

1. Drive time, Denver to Dunes 3 Hours.
2. Exit off of State Route 17, just north of Mosca, on
    6 North Lane, going west, or take 150 north from 160.
3. Lodging in Alamosa.

Ken Papaleo
Colorado Photographer


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Evergreen, Colorado, United States
I worked for the Rocky Mountain News for 28 years, until they went out of business. I now do freelance work, post this weekly blog, ski and play with my four grand children. I still have the love to get out and take photographs, which brings me great peace and comfort.

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