July 1. The slavedriver—I mean, my spouse—got us all up at 6 this morning to go over to Great Sand Dunes while it was still early and cool. It was definitely worth it, we had a great hike up to the top of the main dune, and the kids had a great time jumping and rolling in the sand, and then playing in the little creek that runs next to the dunes. We also spent some time in the visitors' center, which had great exhibits on the uniqueness of the area and the formation of the dunes (short version: sand eroded from the San Juan Mountains gets carried east on the prevailing winds till it hits the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, where it gets dumped. Countervailing winds over the Sangres form the peaks on the dunes.) We also drove over and checked out the desert lake just west of the park, formed by the creeks that surround the dunes, which dip underground to an aquifer.
Next up, more driving. It was a lot farther to Durango than I thought. We did make some stops, though, like a time out on top of Wolf Pass to explain the phenomenon of the Continental Divide. Not entirely sure the kids got it, but the main thing is, we've crossed it. We got the last spot in a campground just north of Durango (holiday weekend starts early, good thing we have reservations for the next two nights). Tomorrow we head into the heart of the San Juans, into Silverton and Ouray.