Nov. 2, 2008 -- Trudging up seemingly endless sand dunes seems like a task reserved for those lost in major deserts like Africa's Sahara. But every year, hundreds of tourists do just that in Colorado.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado is home to about 30 square miles of gigantic sand dunes and another 300 square miles of sand and sand deposits around that.
"This landscape is an enormous mystery," Charles Bedford of the Nature Conservancy told "Good Morning America." "The Sangre de Cristo Mountains go up to 14,000 feet, and that's just the eastern end of the park. It has this Elian wind cycle of wind and water, turning these dunes and changing them perpetually. There isn't a day that you can come up to this place when it is the same as the day before."
But unlike many national parks, according to Park Ranger Patrick Myers, the Great Sand Dunes is fairly interactive.
"This is a very unusual park in terms of it's user-friendly national park. The dunes are a designated wilderness area. It is a place where you can build sand castles, you can slide on the sand on a snowboard or even on skis as long as you don't damage vegetation," he said. "For many people that we have found, it has become a landmark of their lives," Myers continued. "It is a place where they have brought their children when they were little, and they continue to come back. It is a place where the winds have gathered the sand and it seems to have gathered the people here too in the same sense."
But sand castle-building and snow boarding humans are far from the land's only visitors.
"Bison and elk, antelope and deer are common to this valley," Bedford said. "It is rich and productive valley because of the way the water moves out onto the water floor and creates floorage for these grazing animals. Bison have been here for hundreds of thousands of years."
"There is no place on earth like the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve," he said. "There isn't a day that you can come to this place when it is the same as the day before."