Great Sand Dunes National Park Sep. 1st - 4th, 2017 ($799 per person)

Great Sand Dunes at Sunset
Great Sand Dunes at Sunset

Great Sand Dunes National Park Sep. 1st - 4th, 2017 ($799 per person)

from 300.00

The majestic Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to the largest Sand Dunes in North America, and is a breathtaking destination for photographers and adventurers alike. Join Colorado native and renowned landscape photographer, Chris Gavin Jones, on this multi-day adventure through some of the most spectacular scenery and dynamic landscapes Colorado has to offer.

This workshop is intended for photographers of all levels, from beginners to advanced - it is guaranteed to provide you with an opportunity to grow your craft and create compelling and captivating images. Throughout each day, Chris will help you develop your technical skills, as well as your creative vision and approach.  You will be taught exposure and composition strategies, lens selection and filter optimization, and how to shoot in the various and often dramatic lighting conditions at the Sand Dunes and nearby Zapata Falls.

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Daily Schedule

Our daily schedule will be built around the light, so expect early mornings and late afternoons/evenings. Typically we have will have a break in the middle of the day to rest, eat, and edit our images. Chris will lead an editing demonstration on the first afternoon, showing some of his editing tricks and techniques, and for the rest of the afternoons he will be available to edit and critique on a one-on-one basis with each participant as desired.

Day 1 - The workshop will begin at the Great Sand Dunes lodge at 2:00pm. We will have a brief meet-and-greet, discuss the plans for the workshop and answer any questions. After going over our camera gear and specific plans for the afternoon, we will head to the Sand Dunes around 4:00pm. Our first hike will be skirting around the south side of the dunes, working from the periphery inwards, we will photograph the dunes through dusk, and depending on the conditions could remain out to photograph the stars and Milky Way.

Day 2 - The early birds among us will meet at the Sand Dunes parking lot at 5:45am to photograph the dunes at sunrise. We will have breakfast at the Oasis Cafe from 8-9am and head to Zapata Falls afterwards. People wishing to sleep later can meet the group at the cafe for breakfast, or even later at the Zapata Falls parking lot at 9:30am.  The hike to the falls is a moderate 0.9 mile hike, and the excursion takes around 2-3 hours roundtrip. After exploring and photographing Zapata Falls we will have lunch and take a break to download our pictures.  In the early afternoon Chris will lead a Lightroom editing demonstration, sharing his tips and insight into his post-production process. After spending time editing we will prepare for our afternoon hike. This is going to be a big afternoon as we will attempt to reach the top of the highest Sand Dune in North America!  Weather permitted we will stay on the dunes and photograph through sunset. Please make sure to bring water, snacks, and a good flashlight!

Day 3 - We will have another optional sunrise morning hike, meeting at the sand dunes parking lot at 5:45am. We will meet again for breakfast at the Oasis Cafe from 8:00-9:00am, and afterwards will meet back at the Sand Dunes parking lot at 9:30am for our mid-morning hike. For this hike we will go up the Medano creek riverbed to reach the steepest section of the Sand Dunes, a place few photographers go. The edge of the Sand Dunes in this area is met with large cottonwood trees, making for great images. After our hike we will take a break for lunch and to spend time editing our images. We will regroup again at 4pm for our afternoon/sunset hike. Depending on our success the day before we can decide to summit again (or for the first time) or scout out a new location for sunset. The moon will be out and nearly full during this time, so if the clouds and wind are light we could have an opportunity to make some incredible night photography as well!

Day 4 -  We will meet again at 5:45am at the Sand Dunes parking lot for our sunrise hike. After our hike we will meet again for our final breakfast at the Oasis Cafe from 8:00-9:00, followed by our final editing session. We will conclude the workshop with a final slideshow and informal critique, ending around noon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Payment Policy

A $300 dollar deposit is required at time of registration to hold a spot in the workshop.

The remaining balance is due 60 days prior to the start of the workshop. If the balance is not paid, the participant will lose their spot, and will additionally forfeit their deposit according to the refund policy.

We will provide courtesy emails as a reminder to allow participants ample time to pay the remaining balance prior to the 60 day deadline.

Refund Policy

  •     If you cancel 90 days or more from departure, you will receive a full refund minus a $300 administration fee;
  •     If you cancel 30-59 days from departure, 50% of your workshop fee will be refunded;
  •     No refund will be given if canceling 29 days or less from departure.

Cancellation Policy

We work hard to never cancel a workshop, but we recognize that the possibility exists.  We reserve the right to cancel at our discretion, or due to acts of God and/or events outside of our control. If we cancel a workshop we will refund your registration fees in full. That being said, under no circumstances are we liable for other expenses, such as airfare, hotels, car rental, or any other expenses not mentioned.

We recommend purchasing travel insurance, which for a nominal cost can protect you in the event of a cancellation. Please remember that things happen, plans change, events come up, and circumstances arise that prevent a person from participating in a workshop after they have already paid and registered. If you wish to protect your investment in the workshop and travel costs, you may wish to investigate travel insurance. More information can be found at:

If you need to cancel, for any reason, it must be done in writing (e-mail or regular mail). If we cancel the workshop, we will notify you immediately, and issue a full refund to each participant.


Our workshops are outdoors, and it is possible we will encounter adverse weather during the workshop. It is impossible to predict the weather when arranging for a workshop. What some would consider bad weather often makes for great photography. Participants should arrive at the workshop prepared for all weather conditions and temperatures.

May I bring a non-photographer spouse/friend along?

Spouses and non-photographers are welcome to join as paid participants. If photography instruction is not of interest, they will still get to enjoy a visit to a scenic location. Due to limitations imposed by the National Park Service, we have a hard group size limit and are, therefore, unable to offer discounted rates for non-photographers.

Will I pay for my own lodging and transportation?

Unless otherwise stated, lodging and transportation costs are not included in the workshop fee. We reserve a block of rooms at our preferred lodging to ensure that everyone has a place to stay, but it is the participant’s responsibility to reserve and pay for their own rooms. We provide complete instructions upon registration.

Can I camp rather than stay at a hotel?

Absolutely! The Great Sand Dunes National Park has an outstanding campground (for tents and RV’s) that offers incredible access and views to the dunes. The Pinion Flats Campground is available for $20 per night, and reservations can be made at

Entrance Fees

National Park entrance fees are not included in your workshop, but are nominal in nature. The current price per vehicle is $15, which is good for 7-days. We will caravan and/or carpool to our destinations as much as possible.


Meals are not included as part of the workshop tuition.

Itinerary and Schedule

The daily itinerary is tentative. We let the environment, light, and weather dictate what we do and when we do it.  Please understand that participating in this workshop requires a certain level of flexibility.  That being said, weather changes quickly, and often provide for spectacular and dramatic conditions. It would be very rare and unusual to have to cancel an entire day due to weather. The most likely challenge would be our ability to summit the sand dunes as we need to make sure there aren’t any approaching storms as we head out onto the dune field.  

Participant Health and Fitness

This workshop requires participants to spend a significant amount of time outdoors.  General health and fitness will help ensure you have the best experience possible. Each day will involved light-to-moderate hiking. The most difficult hikes will be in the sand dunes, especially when we hike to the top of the dunes, which involves 750-1,000 feet of elevation gain during a 2-3 hour hike. By reserving a space in a workshop, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions that would create a risk for you or other participants.


Workshop participants must provide their own photography gear and laptop computer. A vehicle is highly recommended for all the workshops, except where noted that ground transport is included in the price.