Dunes and Waterfall
Although we had visited the Sand Dunes when we were in Colorado two years ago, we decided to try it again. After all, thanks to the Every Kid in a Park program, any family with a 4th grader can get into every National park for free. As the park ranger asked Charity to sign the back of her pass, I explained that it was because of her that we got to go on an adventure today. She enjoyed the attention and made each person in the van say something nice about her before we entered the visitor center (a tradition that Michael started as he passed out our Cedar Fair tickets on roller coaster days).
The kids remembered going last time and all insisted that they were bring LOTS of water this time. We started up the hills and the sand was cool, but the wind was BRUTAL. We got to the top of one dune and sat down to rest and get a drink - bad mistake. We got pounded with sand in our eyes and mouth. The kids were relentless and wanted to climb higher and roll down the dunes. Michael and I begged them to head back and go to the waterfalls.
We had not been to the water fall before. Last time we were at the dunes, we had extended our energy before we got there. This time we loaded up on snacks and water and made it a priority.
I read reviews about the falls. They all said there was a 3 mile drive and a 1/2 mile hike, and if you want the full experience, then walk through the water for the "good view." One said, "be prepared to carry your children, they don't like the cold water."
The 3 mile drive took us 20 minutes. It was a large, unpaved road, whose base was the large mountain rocks. Our van is pretty robust and has a high clearance, but it is also very tall and was loaded down with gear. Every once and while it would rock so much that Michael feared the gear would shatter the back windows. Slow and steady.
We reached the top and started the hike. Much like the stations of the cross, it was uphill and rocky. The path would appear to have forks in it with no signs or indication of which way to the falls. We could hear the falls. Usually we could see a group of people walking downhill and would choose that way.
We finally got the the water. At that point, there were benches to rest, but no water falls. Evidently to get ANY view of the falls, we would have to walk through the water. We carefully choose which of the large stones to step on to avoid getting our feet wet. Michael navigated the slippery rocks while holding Truman. I decide to just go for it and walk in the water. WOW! That decision lasted about 3 seconds until I decided it was a frostbite risk. If the water was cold in July, it was near frozen in October! We approached the end of the water, we had to look right to see the falls. It was tricky for all of us to fit and get a good view and leave room for others to turn around.
We walked back down the path and loaded into the van. The kids all agreed that the waterfall was their favorite. The fall was not as impressive as Niagara falls, but the challenge getting there was an adventure.