The West's best road trips

Satisfy your wanderlust with a Western classic--a great road trip. Get ideas for the best routes and where to eat along the way

Ultimate Colorado road trip

Big mountains. Wild rivers. Unforgettable beauty. Three fast friends test themselves on a 10-day drive through the Rockies

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Durango to Buena Vista

Recently named a national park and preserve, the Great Sand Dunes rise 750 feet above the San Luis Valley in the south-central part of the state. We pull into the visitor center, and I ask a ranger where we go to rent boards.

"Boards?" she asks.

"For dune boarding," I say confidently. "We've come from California to go dune boarding."

"From California, huh?" She laughs at me. "I think there was a guy out here renting boards a few years ago. But he's not here now."

"That's okay," I tell Sam and Kate. "I'm sure we can slide on these camping mats." The mother of invention, I think smugly, stuffing the mats into my pack.

Built up over centuries in a bend at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the dunes are golden and soft and sinuous. But they are tough to climb; the sand sucks at our feet. We trudge up toward a finely etched spine. One side is gold in the afternoon sun, the other is in shadow.

We plunk down our stuff. I blow up the mats. "This is going to be fun," I say. Sam nods.

I arrange myself on the mat and scoot over the dune's edge. The mat doesn't move.

"I think it needs a running start," I say. I jump down onto the mat from the top of the dune like it's a skateboard, lose my balance as the mat sticks, and land on my side, rolling loglike halfway down.




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