Summer Day Trip: The Sand Dunes

‘Tis the season of planning backpack tours across Europe, working at a congressional office, or learning a new skill set for the summer. For those of us who cannot afford an extensive vacation away from work, travel options seem limited. But with a car, map and a group of friends, you can escape for a day trip to your local sand dunes.

Sand dunes are an interesting natural phenomenon that form when wind deposits sand from nearby lakes and are stabilized by plants and their root systems. Many states, including California, Michigan and Indiana, boast elaborate sand dunes. These high-rise dunes offer a day’s worth of exciting, free activities.

Sand Sledding
Imagine sledding in the summer, minus the red cheeks and runny nose. According to the Park Service at the Grand Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the best time to sled is when the sand is damp. Grab yourself a sled and race your friends down the largest sand dunes you can find.

Sand dunes dot Lake Michigan’s coast in Indiana and Michigan, so pack your favorite bikini! The chilly water delightfully contrasts the hot sand and sun. Bring a frisbee or volleyball to play in the water. Do not forget sunscreen and some cute sunglasses to protect from the sun.

More often than not, sand dunes are part of a state park that provides trails and picnic benches for free. Take advantage of the natural beauty surrounding the barren sand dunes by hiking through the trails. If you have more time, stop by the visitor’s center for information about the local wildlife, and have a competition to see who can spot the most animals.

Camping/Star Gazing
Often sand dunes are located near campgrounds. Spend some quality time with Mother Nature. Pitch a tent, and spend the night telling scary stories and roasting marshmallows. Creep out on the sand dunes at night when the sand will be cooler. Since sand dunes are located far away from large cities, light pollution will not obscure the stunning vista of hundreds of stars glowing.

Before getting to the sand dunes don’t forget to fill your tote with the essentials: smartphone with GPS capability, a towel and a water bottle. The best times to climb the sand dunes are in the early morning or late afternoon; avoid visiting the dunes around noon since the sand can potentially reach 150 degrees during the summer.

By: Lisa Swanson | Image: Source

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