Tag Archives: Great Sand Dunes National Park

2nd try sketching at Great Sand Dunes National Park

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The weather is great. I was there all day working on this sketch but I took a long break and walked with the camera to take pix for my blogging friends.

Yesterday I wasn’t happy with my sketch because it didn’t show the panoramic view I hoped to get. I was sitting on a small dune to do the sketch. Today I sat on a bench behind the visitor center which is about 1/2 mile back from the dune and I think it came out better. I worked on my charcoal sketch for hours first. I find it difficult to do a panoramic sketch. The sketch keeps getting bigger and bigger as I’m going which means it’s out of control.

At least this is showing the scale of the dunes better because of the trees. The dunes are 750 feet tall, the largest sand dunes in North America.IMG_2335

Some wild flowers, asters, I guess. IMG_2334

Rabbit brush. The plaque says cows don’t like to eat it. Someone used the area to graze cattle and now there’s a lot of this because they ate all the tastier plants. That was long ago.IMG_2331

yucca. They’re small for a yucca. I think that’s what it is though. If not, please tell me.IMG_2330

horse brushIMG_2329

fringed sage. It’s a very delicate plant. This is a close up.IMG_2337

The two main grasses are blue grama grass and Indian rice grass. Aren’t they soft and delicate looking? I don’t know what the reddish brown plants are.

I learned so much today about this unusual ecosystem in the park. It has so many layers and they all depend on each other.

Elevation : 8170 feet. San Louis Valley with Sangre De Christo mountains.

Tomorrow I’m off to Taos New Mexico, which isn’t too far from here.

sand dunes and mountain side

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I went out at the crack of dawn to Sand Dunes National Park and the dunes had great shadows. First I walked out to the grassy knoll to have a look at the view from there. It’s fantastic! I went back to the car and got my watercolor paper and color swatches because it’s too far to lug even watercolors over the sand. I got plenty of exercise at the high altitude walking on the sand today. People go the whole way to the top and walk on the ridge. They surf down on boards too.

I thought it would be less weight to carry if I picked a few colors of Inktense pencils. As I was working on my charcoal sketch the light changed and the shadows were gone. It was getting close to lunch time. I decided to go back this afternoon and see if the shadows looked better a few hours later.

I wish I could draw a more panoramic view. This doesn’t give you the perspective. If I drew people on the ridge they would be tiny. This isn’t as much of the mountain as I’d have liked in the sketch, but at least I got the tree line in so the altitude is showing a little.

When I left the dunes a little while ago the shadows looked dramatic again.  I have one more full day that I can spend up there, then I’ll have to move on again, so I hope I can get another sketch tomorrow.

pix from the Great Sand Dunes National Park

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I have a new favorite road, 160. I’m in Alamosa, CO. IMG_2321 It was a longer drive from Pueblo than I thought it would be. And so amazingly beautiful all the way. I guess if you live up here you eventually get used to it, but I keep slowing down to enjoy it and the speed limit is 65. Everyone’s passing me. I want to sketch in the Sand Dunes tomorrow. Today when I got there it was lunch time already and I was hungry. They have a restaurant but I wanted to find a motel for tonight too. I’m not drawing or hiking on an empty stomach. So I left the dunes to get a sandwich in Alamosa. The towns are so few and far between, I don’t want to go all the way back to the dunes today. Tomorrow I’ll take something to eat and stay a while.

I’m at 7500 feet now, I think. This is the high road. If I had a 4 wheel drive I could go up past the tree line, but the Taurus can’t go there.

The motels here are booking up early so it’s good I left the dunes when I did because there might be no vacancies later. It’s early and the Motel 6 only had suites available so I took one for $135 or something like that. It’s a huge room.

I might go out and try to find this park the guy at the desk told me about, see if I can do a sketch this afternoon of the mountain. It’s only a few blocks away.