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North Sand Hills Hiking

Hiking in the North Sand Hills Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA)

The North Sand Hills sand dune complex northeast of Walden, Colorado, has been increasingly popular with off-highway vehicle enthusiasts since the 1970's.  Now, as the only dune complex in Colorado open to off-highway vehicles, it sees more than 20,000 visitors annually.  Some weekends (usually Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day) can see as many as 5,000 visitors.  Because of the high use of ATVs, dirt bikes, and 4x4s usually on weekends through the summer months, the best times for hiking are usually week days during the summer and all week through the late fall, winter, and early spring.  There are plenty of trails through the sage brush, aspens, and open dunes.  Government Creek offers shade and a cool place to dip your toes on the northeastern side of the dunes.

Hiking the Instant Study Area within the North Sand Hills SRMA

Current management limits motorized travel to routes that existed in 1976 and the barren dunes.  Currently the Kremmling Field Office is closing many routes that have been made after 1976 until the Travel Management Plan Revison is updated.  These areas are closed to motorized and mechanized travel but open to foot and horseback travel.  These areas are fenced off with buck and rail fencing and have carsonites posting them as closed to motorized vehicles.  Over the next couple of years the fencing projects will continue until the ISA is only open to routes that existed in 1976 and the open dunes.  These areas provide fantastic hiking, snowshoeing, photography, and wildlife viewing but are still in close proximity to where OHV users are.

Click here for more information on the North Sand Hills Instant Study Area


Map of North Sand Hills

Suggested Equipment for Hiking in the North Sand Hills

* Bring at least 1 quart of water per person (usaully adequate for short, part-day hikes)

* Food

* Layers of clothing such as t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, and fleece (days can range from below 30 degrees to over 90 degrees)

* Rain gear

* Sunscreen, sunhat, and sunglasses

* First Aid kit

* Insect repellent

* Day pack

* If snowshoeing or hiking during cold weather, additonal safety gear is suggested