Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
North Sand Hills Trip

by Kathy Howell

For the second time in recent years, Darrel Turner led a trip to the Walden Sand Dunes on July 6, 7, and 8. It was a small group consisting of Darrel, his dog, Bud, Elvis Licul, and John and Kathy Howell. The group traveled north to Laramie and then back south to the dunes in Cowdrey, CO, as that was an easier route for Darrel with his RV. At the dunes, camp was established high on a bluff in a grove of aspen trees with a scenic view of the valley below and the snow capped mountains to the west. The only negative of the campsite was the generator from the next campsite. Those campers didn’t like the noise of the generator and decided to move it away from their camp, but they didn’t seem to be bothered that they had moved it into our camp.

Friday afternoon we played on the dunes. Although Darrel was an old hand at this, it was the first time on the dunes for both Elvis and John. After a little practice, everyone was driving up and down the dunes and playing “follow the leader” through the myriad of roads. At the edge of the dunes, there are many steep roads that seem to drop off the dunes. While the many ATVs and one dune buggie made it look easy to go up and down those steep drop offs, none of the Jeeps ventured down.

At dusk, the Howells went into Walden to spend the night at a motel while Darrel and Elvis stayed in camp. On Saturday morning, we traveled the “Power Line Road.” This trip started with a downhill into the stream and then a steep climb out on the other side. That turned out to be the most difficult part of an easy, well-maintained road that zigzagged up the mountain beneath the power lines. At multiple points there was a wonderful view of the sand dunes below, the many ATVs crisscrossing the dunes, and the snow capped mountains all around.

That afternoon we were back on the dunes being more adventuresome than before. We were lured into one deep sandpit that swallowed John’s Jeep Cherokee. With each attempt, he would make it almost to the top, but those deep treaded tires would just dig deeper making it impossible to go those last few feet. After three unsuccessful tries at getting out, he just put it in reverse, backed out, and went on the next dune. We took a break in the afternoon and drove into Walden for ice cream at an old-fashioned soda fountain. Back in camp, we had a gourmet meal at Darrel’s and went back on the dunes again. This time we had a spectacular light show with the bright orange sun setting to the west and dark clouds and lightning bolts to the south. As darkness settled, it became more interesting to drive the dunes since you couldn’t see the ridges and undulations that made for a bumpy ride.

On Sunday morning, the Howell’s headed for Poudre Canyon while Darrel and Elvis hit the dunes one last time. With the overnight rain, the sand was tightly packed and they could easily travel routes that were not possible in the loose sand. They also traveled an alternate route of the “Power Line Road” which more closely followed the streambed. By noon, they were headed home.

The weekend was great fun. The weather was terrific. There was a cool breeze on the dunes and it was very comfortable. And, there were NO mosquitoes until a few showed up on Saturday night. Let’s do it again next year.

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