Celebrate the Holidays at Great Sand Dunes with Music in the Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve invites San Luis Valley residents and visitors to come enjoy holiday music on Sunday, December 8th. Serenity Strings, a local San Luis Valley strings ensemble will be performing holiday music from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the park's visitor center. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate will be provided for visitors to enjoy while singing along to Christmas carols and other favorite holiday tunes. Park staff will also have arts and crafts activities available for children.
The Western National Parks Association store will have a 15% discount day for holiday shoppers to purchase their holiday gifts. The store offers a variety of gift items including puzzles, maps, children's books, and posters.
Visitors will also find some time to enjoy hiking, skiing, sledding, or taking your family holiday photo at the Dunefield. "This is a great time to enjoy the solitude and beauty of the park during the winter season" says Chief of Visitor Services and Interpretation, Katherine Faz.
Great Sand Dunes visitor center and store are open 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. However, Great Sand Dunes is open 24 hours a day. Entrance fees are $3 per person, 16 years and older and free for anyone younger than 16 years. Weather during this time of year ranges from 20 degrees (F) to 10 degrees (F) or lower. Check the weather/webcam page on this website for a forecast before you visit the park. You can also call the park's visitor center at 719-378-6395 for more information.
NPS/Phyllis Pineda Bovin
Annual Christmas Bird Count at Great Sand Dunes on December 28
Birders and nature enthusiasts in the San Luis Valley will join birders across the western hemisphere to participate in Audubon's longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), held at Great Sand Dunes National Park on Saturday, December 28, 2013. Birders of all skill levels are welcome to participate. The park is also looking for those within the count circle who have bird feeders to join in the fun , as well.
To participate, meet at the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center Conference Room (about ½ mile past the entrance station) by 9:00 AM. Bring binoculars, warm clothing, food, water, and bird books if possible. Snowshoes may come in handy, as well. Hot drinks and snacks will be provided beginning at 8:00 am before the count.
The CBC is now a free program. Audubon will no longer charge the $5.00 fee of field participants. Additionally, the park will waive the entrance fee for CBC participants on that day only. Those wishing to participate have a couple of options to sign up. Participants may register online at http://netapp.audubon.org/cbc/public/, or contact park ranger Phyllis Pineda Bovin directly at 719-378-6363 or e-mail us.
The longest running citizen science survey in the world, Audubon's annual Christmas Bird Count takes place nationwide in late December each year. Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout North America brave winter weather to add a new layer to over a century of data.
The Christmas Bird Count began over a century ago when 27 conservationists in 25 localities changed the course of ornithological history. On Christmas Day in 1900, the small group posed an alternative to the "side hunt," a Christmas day activity in which teams competed to see who could shoot the most birds and small mammals. Instead, it was proposed that they identify, count, and record all the birds they saw, founding what is now considered to be the world's most significant citizen-based conservation effort – and a more than century-old institution. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds across the Western Hemisphere, and the data, which are 100% volunteer generated, have become a crucial part of the U.S. Government's natural history monitoring database.
Please go to the Audubon website for additional information, news, and history on the Christmas Bird Count: http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.
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Did You Know?
Medano Creek, flowing at the base of Great Sand Dunes, is one of the few and best places in the world to experience "surge flow", where creek water comes in rhythmic waves. More...