Something very important you should know if you ever decide to do a spontaneous or last minute trip to the Colorado Sand Dunes: The national park camp sites fill up quickly! There is a lodge right outside the park, but you guessed it. Also full. After seeing that it was full on any day about the time we wanted to go (tried looking about a month ahead), I almost pulled the plug on this stop. But then I looked at campsites nearby and came across Base Camp Family Campground.
It is only 27 minutes away from the Sand Dunes, right smack between the nearest town of Alamosa and the park entrance. The other campsites were more RV centered and closer to town, so this seemed like a good fit.
Cool thing about this site is it was brand new. Apparently the week we went was the first week it was open! The owner lives on site, and his granddaughter happened to be there helping out too. If you want family friendly place, this is it. They were still under some construction at the bath and laundry building, but it was completely functional. (I also have fond memories of construction growing up, so I really don't mind). They even gave us complimentary firewood while they were still completing things!
Not gonna lie, I had some camping-culture-shock when we pulled up. I didn't exactly know what to expect, but it was different than my expectations. Not bad, just different. Growing up on the East Coast there were always trees when camping. Even camping in Oklahoma and Texas there are trees, though much shorter.
We pulled up and there were no trees.
And there was no dirt. There was sand.
I've never camped on sand before, and no trees made me feel really exposed. As I adjusted my expectations to the reality, it was amazing. No trees means that there were 360 degrees of unobstructed views (except for any clouds) of the mountains. It was absolutely beautiful every direction you look. The boys also absolutely LOVED the sand - drawing pictures, playing in it, you name it.
As cool as it may have been to stay in the park itself, I am so grateful that we got to stay here. We were the only tenting family the first night. The second night, two or three more families showed up. One family had a ton of kids (might have even been two groups camping together), and they along with our boys played games all up and down the sandy road until it was time for bed. It was so nice to not only hear them playing, but to hear the oldest of them all look out for the kids and help set up the game so everyone had turns and everyone had fun.
The spot only gets 7 inches of rain a year, and we happened to get some rain both nights we were there. You can tell in the next picture with the sand being a little wet at sunrise. We did get to see some stars one night! There is no doubt that on a clear night you would truly have unlimited views for star gazing. (And I was mad at myself for forgetting my tripod! Would have been perfect for nighttime pictures!)
One final note for those considering camping here. You can hear the highway (one lane both ways) from the site. It is not that big of a deal because there is not a lot of traffic and it is a little bit off. But you do hear it. I almost wonder if you would hear it where ever you were on the plains just because of the vast openness.
If you plan last minute and end up staying here, I promise you will not be disappointed! It felt like home away from home for us.
Missed out on the first part of our trip? Check out our stay at Caprock Canyons.
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* * * This post is NOT sponsored, just an honest review of our stay at Basecamp Family Campgrounds.