Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve vs. Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve, 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!

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Overview

Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage and part of a 25-million acre World Heritage Site—one of the world’s largest international protected areas. From sea to summit, Glacier Bay offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration.

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 Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world. Located in Alaska, Glacier Bay is home to more than 100 glaciers, as well as an abundance of wildlife. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which hiking trail to take. However, there are a few trails that stand out above the rest. The Upper Muir Inlet Trail is considered to be the easiest hike in Glacier Bay, and it offers stunning views of glaciers and mountains. For a more challenging hike, try the Abra Windy Trail, which ascent nearly 3,000 feet in just over three miles. Glacier Bay is an incredible place for nature lovers, and these hiking trails are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Bartlett Cove Forest Loop Trail 33.8328 1 loop 4.5
Bartlett River Trail 266.7 1 out and back 3
Bartlet Lake Trail 141.732 1 out and back 3.5
Tlingit Trail 19.812 1 out and back 3.5
Point Gustavus 117.9576 3 out and back 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 Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve

Glacier Bay National Park is home to an amazing array of wildlife. Visitors can expect to see everything from grizzly bears and bald eagles to seals and whales. There are also a variety of plant species to be found in the park, including Sitka spruce, western hemlock, and lodgepole pine. In addition to its diverse wildlife, Glacier Bay National Park also offers stunning views of glaciers, mountains, and ocean. Whether you’re looking for a chance to spot some rare animals or simply enjoy the breathtaking scenery, Glacier Bay National Park is sure to exceed your expectations.

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.

Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve Weather Considerations

Glacier Bay National Park is a place of extremes. In the summer, temperatures can reach up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while in the winter they can drop as low as -40 degrees. However, the park is beautiful at all times of year. In the spring, Glacier Bay is a haven for migratory birds, and wildflowers blanket the landscape. Summer is the best time for hiking and kayaking, and in the fall, the leaves of the trees turn a stunning array of colors. Winter is Glacier Bay’s quietest season, when snow dusts the landscape and ice floes float in the bay. No matter when you visit, Glacier Bay National Park is sure to take your breath away.