The Hobitat, San Luis Valley, and Howling winds.

We took a two week family vacation loop through Southwest CO and had a fantastic time moving from place to place sometimes camping and sometimes staying in hotels/cabins/resorts. One stop along the way was the Great Sand Dunes Nat. Park. We didn’t have time to be flexible with a campsite there since we had a long driving day so we were keen to reserve something. This is actually kind of hard for the Great Sand Dunes Park proper, but nearby San Luis State Park, just 10 minutes down the road, lets you reserve a spot online ahead of time.

The San Luis State Park just down the road from the Great San Dunes has free hot showers for campers, electrical hookups at each site (no need), and nearby trails around the San Luis Lakes which is an incredible birding/wildlife watching location. We also had stunning views of the Crestones esp. with the sunset light on those peaks.

The Great Sand Dunes are Huge. You have to be there to experience the immensity. Then there is also the reason for their existence, which is of course, the wind. The geography is perfect to supply a constant blowing wind which over millions of years has left the piles of sand behind we all enjoy clambering over. If you stay near here for a few days, you will start to find fine sand in just about everything.

The campsites themselves had no cover from the wind other than oddly shaped lean-to’s that sheltered each picnic table. I was of course aware of what havoc the wind might play on our tent, which is a monster car-camp Hobitat 6. That puppy was staked down with the extra fly tie downs and all. Even so, when a nearby thunderstorm brought winds with accompanying fierce gusts I was stunned to see the tent get blown into a weird ellipse shape before snapping and getting blown flat! Yes, FLAT. There was no fighting against the storm so I pulled the pole ends out of the grommets to end the tent’s misery and let it lay flat without more warping or breaking or bending the poles anymore. It was of course too late for one of the poles and the others had some wicked bends. After the storm passed it was clear that we were going to need to repair the tent pole with the provided pole repair sleeve and add some more tie downs. The problem with the Hobitat 6 and its tie downs are that the tent is quite tall and the design does not hold up to high winds. I added more tie downs attached up high on the poles, 2 extra ones in each corner, and that did the trick. It would take hurricane force winds to tear that puppy up and thankfully we didn’t encounter those! Next time if wind is a factor at all I will add the high-ties to this monster tent.