This is the third part of my cross country adventure with my amazing Australian Shepherd, Iris.  See previous installments:

Part III of Iris’ Grand Adventure: Our next stop was Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.  Not only is it one of the most dog friendly national parks, it’s also one of the most unique landscapes I’ve ever seen.  Grasslands and desert shrublands lead up to tallest sand dunes in North America.  Beyond the dunes, the snow capped Rocky Mountains tower over the landscape.  Dogs are allowed to explore the most commonly used areas by Medano Creek and are also allowed throughout the national preserve.  Dogs must be kept on a leash (Iris was always on a 6′ leash – I just added a little Photoshop magic to make it look like she was wild and free).  Always respect our parks so they will continue to be dog friendly!

Iris standing in the grass at the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park

After a few days in the dry desert of New Mexico, wading in the cool creek felt like heaven.  And even though the brush and the dunes seemed a bit like an alien planet, it looked a lot like heaven too.  We went for a long walk along the creek to stretch our legs and enjoy the sunshine.

dog walking on the dunes in front of the mountains

paw prints and footprints in the sand

Iris standing on the sand dunes

As we wandered, the last golden light of the day began reflecting off the mountains.  Iris is happy to be outside at any time of day, but the photographer in me is always looking toward sunset.  She keeps me balanced and reminds me to enjoy every moment, while I make sure to give her lots of cookies for posing for sunset photos.

Iris standing on the trail leading back to the campground at Great Sand Dunes

setting sunlight on dog standing in Medano Creek

dog standing and watching the sunset over the sand dunes

Australian Shepherd standing in front of mountains at Great Sand Dunes NP

sunset over snow capped mountains in Colorado

sunset reflecting in the water at Great Sand Dunes NP

As the sun was disappearing behind the dunes, the wind started to pick up.  I wanted to get a couple more photos of the sunset, but Iris let me know exactly what she thought of that.  I guess we’re done with photos for the day!  She always has quite an opinion about how she thinks things should be done.

dog sitting in Medano Creek and sticking her tongue out

I packed up my camera and we headed back to the campsite to watch the stars come out.  Iris happily curled up on her blanket while I began making plans for the next stop on our trip.  Looking at a map, Canyonlands National Park didn’t seem too far (especially since we’d come all the way from Massachusetts!)  I chose that as our next stop and settled down for the night so we could get an early start in the morning.

To read the next part of our adventure, go to Part IV of Iris’ Grand Adventure.

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