The High Dune is the highest dune above sea level within the Great Sand Dunes National Park, rising 650 feet above the valley floor to an elevation of 8,691 feet. The dunes of the park are the highest and tallest in North America. The nearby Star Dune rises 750, but starting at a lower elevation in the valley, reaches only 8,617 feet above sea level - still, a very tall dune when seen from its base or while attempting to hike it!
The dune field covers 30 square miles and reaches depths of 300 feet below the valley floor. More sand around the edges is covered by plants and seasonal marshlands formed by the streams coming down from snowmelt in the Sangre de Christo mountains. The prevailing winds and streams work to keep the dunes from blowing out of the valley. The streams run around the borders of the dunes, capture blowing sand returning it to the valley where the winds pick it up and bring it back to the dunes in a cycle that has gone on for a long time.
The United States is one of the most diverse countries on earth, jam packed full of amazing sights from St. Patrick's cathedral in New York to Mount Hollywood California.The Northeast region is where it all started. Thirteen British colonies fought the American Revolution from here and won their independence in the first successful colonial rebellion in history. Take a look at these rolling hills carpeted with foliage along the Hudson river here, north of New York City.The American south is known for its polite people and slow pace of life. Probably they move slowly because it's so hot. Southerners tend not to trust people from "up north" because they talk too fast. Here's a cemetery in Georgia where you can find graves of soldiers from the Civil War.The West Coast is sort of like another country that exists to make the east coast jealous. California is full of nothing but grizzly old miners digging for gold, a few gangster rappers, and then actors. That is to say, the West Coast functions as the imagination of the US, like a weird little brother who teases everybody then gets famous for making freaky art.The central part of the country is flat farmland all the way over to the Rocky Mountains. Up in the northwest corner you can find creative people in places like Portland and Seattle, along with awesome snowboarding and good beer. Text by Steve Smith.