Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve vs. Great Basin 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 Great Basin 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!

Great Basin National Park Overview

From the 13,063-foot summit of Wheeler Peak, to the sage-covered foothills, Great Basin National Park is a place to sample the stunning diversity of the larger Great Basin region. Come and partake of the solitude of the wilderness, walk among ancient bristlecone pines, bask in the darkest of night skies, and explore mysterious subterranean passages. There’s a whole lot more than just desert here!

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 Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is home to a variety of hiking trails, from easy walks to challenging treks. The Great Basin Visitor Center is the best place to start exploring the park, and the Bristlecone and Glacier trails are two of the most popular options. The Bristlecone trail is a short and easy hike that winds through a forest of ancient bristlecone pines, while the Glacier trail is a longer and more difficult hike that takes hikers up to an alpine lake. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Wheeler Peak trail is the highest point in the park and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. No matter what your level of experience, Great Basin National Park has a hiking trail that’s perfect for you.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Great Basin National Park

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Lehman Cave 13.716 1 loop 4.5
Bristlecone and Alpine Lakes Loop 308.7624 3 loop 4.5
Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive 1175.9184 1 out and back 4.5
Baker Lake Trail 813.816 5 out and back 4.5
Teresa Lake 92.964 3 out and back 5
Baker Lake-Johnson Lake Loop 1330.7568 5 loop 4.5
Lexington Arch Trail 340.7664 3 out and back 4
Wheeler Peak Trail via Alpine Lakes Trail 940.9176 5 out and back 5
Stella Lake Trail 134.7216 3 out and back 4.5
Lehman Creek Trail 755.904 5 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 Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including both plants and animals. Among the park’s animals are several species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and birds. The Great Basin National Park is also home to a variety of plant life, including many types of trees, shrubs, and flowers. Visitors to the park can expect to see a variety of wildlife, including both plants and animals.

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.

Great Basin National Park Weather Considerations

Great Basin National Park is located in Nevada, and it experiences a wide range of weather conditions throughout the year. In the winter, the park gets a lot of snow, and temperatures can drop below freezing. The spring and fall are generally milder, but there can still be snow at higher elevations. The summer is the busiest time of year at the park, as the weather is warm and sunny. However, thunderstorms are common in the summer months, so visitors should be prepared for some wet weather. Overall, the best time to visit Great Basin National Park is in the summer or fall when the weather is more stable. However, no matter what time of year you visit Great Basin National Park, be sure to come prepared for all types of weather conditions.