• Great Sand Dunes and Sangre de Cristo Mountains

    Great Sand Dunes

    National Park & Preserve Colorado



NPS/Scott Hansen

"Go Wild" at Great Sand Dunes During National Park Week!

Full Press Release, April 17, 2014 (pdf file)

Schedule of Events for March - September 2014


Sunday, March 16 – Music at the Park – 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Come enjoy Celtic music by local strings ensemble, Serenity Strings,from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the Visitor Center in celebration of Great Sand Dunes' establishment as a National Monument, March 17, 1932. The Western National Parks Association will be honoring a 15% discount on purchases in their store, located in the Visitor Center. Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


April 19-20 – National Parks Fee-Free Weekend

Great Sand Dunes along with 133 National Park Service units will waive fees for visitors to experience America's treasures. Great Sand Dunes will offer afternoon ranger programs on Saturday and Sunday. Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Friday, May 23 – first day of Summer Ranger Programs and extended Visitor Center hours.

Great Sand Dunes will offer daily ranger programs at the Visitor Center and Amphitheater starting Friday, May 23. All programs are free, fun, and interactive, and designed to give visitors an understanding of all there is to see and do at Great Sand Dunes. This summer, rangers will lead night hikes for visitors to explore natural sounds and dark skies. You might even meet a live animal or sing a fun song. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Wilderness Act, evening programs will focus on the unique wilderness areas within Great Sand Dunes and the wildlife that call this special place home. Check the Ranger Program Schedule for a detailed list of programs, or call the Visitor Center at 719-378-6395. The Visitor Center is open starting May 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Saturday, June 7 – Junior Ranger Day – 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Enjoy a morning full of junior ranger activities at the Visitor Center and Dunes Play Area. Kids of all ages can participate in a series of activities to earn stickers, t-shirts and other fun items. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Dunes. Cool down in the Visitor Center in the afternoon for ranger programs at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Saturday, June 14 – Wetlands Hike – 9 a.m.–12 p.m.

Join Ranger Patrick on a free 2-mile round trip hike to South Twin Lake, a large wetland west of Great Sand Dunes. Hikers will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Visitor Center, caravan to the trailhead about 15 miles to the west, and return to the Visitor Center about noon. Hikers will discover and learn about some of the plants, animals, and history of the desert grassland and wetland environments. South Twin Lake is on national park land that is leased by The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy partners with the National Park Service in protecting the Great Sand Dunes' ecological system and its biodiversity. Call the Visitor Center for details and to sign up for the hike: 719-378-6395.


On weekends throughout the month of July - Guest Speaker Series

Check the Program Schedule for more information on dates and times for scheduled guest speakers.

Saturday, July 19 – "Birds of Flight", Pueblo Nature and Raptor Center – 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Join the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo for a 45-minute presentation at the Amphitheater to learn more about raptors in Colorado and meet a live owl, bald eagle, and other birds of prey!


Monday, August 25 - National Park Service Birthday

Enjoy a fee-free day to celebrate the birthday of the National Park Service. On this day in 1916, the National Park Service was established as a federal agency of the Department of the Interior, responsible for protecting national parks and monuments. Great Sand Dunes will honor this day in history with ranger programs that highlight other special places that the National Park Service protects.


Thursday, September 4 – Great Sand Dunes America the Beautiful Quarter Launch Ceremony

Great Sand Dunes will host a ceremony at the Dunes Parking Lot in honor of being featured on the reverse side of a new U.S. Quarter. The image selected for the Quarter is representative of Great Sand Dunes and portrays unique features such as Mount Herard and the picturesque dunes. The ceremony will be free and open to the public.

Friday, September 5 – "Birds of Flight", Pueblo Nature and Raptor Center – 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Join the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo for a 45-minute presentation at the Amphitheater to learn more about raptors in Colorado and meet a live owl, bald eagle, and other birds of prey!

All programs and eventsare free and open to the public. Entrance fees are $3 per adult (age 16 and older). Entrance fees are valid for one week from date of purchase. Time and location of events and programs are subject to change.

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Tubing Medano Creek

NPS/Patrick Myers

Tourism to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve creates $14,323,000 in Economic Benefit

Report shows visitor spending supports 188 jobs in local economy

by Katherine Faz, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services

Mosca, CO – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 254,674 visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2012 spent $14,323,000 in communities near Great Sand Dunes. That spending supported 188 jobs in the local area.

"Great Sand Dunes is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world," said Superintendent Lisa Carrico. "We are delighted to share the significance and story of this place and the experiences it provides and to use the Park and Preserve as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National Park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service - and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities. "

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

According to the report most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

To download the report visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/socialscience/economics.cfm .

The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about national parks in Colorado and how the National Park Service works with Colorado communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/Colorado.

Did You Know?

Upper Sand Creek Lake

Alpine lakes such as Upper Sand Creek Lake are part of the mountain watershed of Great Sand Dunes, and provide a dramatic contrast to the stark dunefield. More...