Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve vs. Gateway Arch National Park

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve and Gateway Arch National Park, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll take a look at what they have to offer in terms of hiking and wildlife, plus what the best time of year to visit might be.

Let’s get started with an overview of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Overview

Open 24/7 year round! There are no limitations or reservations to visit, but there is currently limited capacity in the visitor center. The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Stay on a moonless night to experience this International Dark Sky Park’s starry skies!

Gateway Arch National Park Overview

The Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis’ role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. The park is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson’s role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history, and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.

Hiking At National Parks

Most national parks have some of the best hiking trails you’ll find anywhere in the US.

If you’re planning to take along your furry friend, double-check the rules before you go – as many of the parks have different rules about bringing animals along with you.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Hiking Trails

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the country. The park offers a variety of trails for all levels of hikers, from easy strolls to challenging treks. The easiest trail is the Dunes View Trail, which is a short, 0.5-mile loop that provides stunning views of the dunes. For a more challenging hike, try the Alkali Flat Trail, a 4-mile loop that takes you through a variety of terrain, including dunes, meadows, and forests. For the most experienced hikers, the Sandwich Peak Trail is a strenuous 11-mile round-trip hike that culminates in stunning views from the summit of Sandwich Peak. No matter what your level of experience, Great Sand Dunes National Park has a hiking trail for you.

Best Hikes At Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at AllTrails.com

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Upper Sand Creek Lake Trail 598.932 7 out and back 4.5
Medano Lake Trail 697.992 3 out and back 4
Montville Nature Trail 26.8224 1 loop 4
Dunes Overlook Sand Ramp Trail 80.772 3 out and back 3.5
Little Medano Creek Trail to Medano Lake 1079.9064 3 out and back 4
Wellington Ditch Trail 47.8536 1 out and back 4
Dunes Overlook Trail 143.8656 3 out and back 4
Pinion Flats Campground Trail 26.8224 1 loop 4
High Dune Trail 191.7192 5 out and back 5
High and Star Dune Loop 403.86 3 loop 4.5

Hiking Overview at Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. The easiest trail is the Riverfront Trail, which runs along the Mississippi River and is perfect for a leisurely stroll. For something more challenging, try the Crissy Field West Bluff Trail, which offers stunning views of San Francisco Bay. Finally, the most difficult hike in the park is the Muir Woods Trail, which winds its way through dense forest and includes a steep climb to the top of Mount Tamalpais. Whichever trail you choose, you’re sure to have an enjoyable experience at Gateway Arch National Park.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Gateway Arch National Park

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
St. Louis Riverfront Trail 109.728 1 loop 4
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial 20.7264 1 loop 4

Wildlife at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, from small insects to large mammals. The most common animals you’re likely to see in the park are mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep. Other smaller mammals include squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and mice. You may also see reptiles such as lizards and snakes, as well as a variety of birds, including hawks, eagles, and quail. In addition to its many animal residents, Great Sand Dunes National Park is also home to a wide variety of plants, including grasses, shrubs, and trees. The park’s diverse ecosystem provides habitat for many different species of wildlife, making it a great place to explore the natural world.

Wildlife at Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including both plants and animals. The park is home to over 100 species of trees, as well as numerous shrubs, vines, and wildflowers. Visitors can also expect to see a variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Some of the more popular animals include deer, squirrels, raccoons, and opossums. The park also has a wide variety of fish, including bass, catfish, and sunfish. With so much wildlife to explore, Gateway Arch National Park is a must-visit for any nature lover.

What’s the best time to visit?

A lot of times, weather can dictate when it makes the most sense to visit a particular national park.

Plus, depending on the types of activities you’re hoping to take part in, seasonality will be a huge factor in whether those things are even available.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Weather Considerations

Great Sand Dunes National Park is a great place to visit any time of year, but the best time to go depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to experience the park’s namesake dunes, the best time to visit is during the spring or fall, when the temperatures are cooler and the sand isn’t as hot. However, if you’re more interested in hiking or other outdoor activities, the summer months are generally the best time to go, as there is less chance of rain. Winter can also be a good time to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park, as long as you’re prepared for colder weather and possible snow. So whatever your interests, there’s a perfect time of year for you to explore Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Gateway Arch National Park Weather Considerations

Gateway Arch National Park is a beautiful place to visit all year round, but the weather can vary greatly depending on the time of year. The best time to visit if you’re looking for mild temperatures and low humidity is spring or fall. However, if you don’t mind a little heat, summer can also be a great time to enjoy all the park has to offer. The worst time to visit Gateway Arch National Park is during the winter, when temperatures can dip below freezing and the wind chill can make it feel even colder. If you do decide to visit during the winter, be sure to dress warmly and pack plenty of food and water. No matter when you visit Gateway Arch National Park, though, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.