• Great Sand Dunes and Sangre de Cristo Mountains

    Great Sand Dunes

    National Park & Preserve Colorado

Calendar

 
Ranger Patrick Myers with kids learning about the Great Sand Dunes Circus Beetle

Kids help a ranger demonstrate the unusual adaptations of the Great Sand Dunes Circus Beetle. Visitors get more out of their visit by going on short ranger-led programs!

Cana Myers

Ranger Program Schedule

Your visit can be more enjoyable when you better understand the environment around you. Ranger programs are offered most days May through October. View the current schedule of programs!

You may request a special program for a group by calling the Visitor Center at 719-378-6395, or send an email.

 

Other Programs and Annual Events

 
Junior Ranger Day 2007

Hundreds of kids turn out each year for Junior Ranger Day!

NPS Photo

Junior Ranger Day

Each summer the park hosts a special morning with activities for kids, including learning about nature, primitive skills, sand sculpturing, crafts and more. Saturday, June 6 is the date for 2015. Plan to reserve camping/lodging ahead and arrive early, as this weekend is the second busiest of the year. All parking areas and campgrounds will fill quickly.

 
Bison in Wetlands

Bison take a drink at Dollar Lake west of the dunes. Over 1000 bison roam on Nature Conservancy lands within the national park.  Bison tours are the primary way to see these majestic animals at Great Sand Dunes.

NPS/Patrick Myers

Bison Tours

The Nature Conservancy partners with the National Park Service to protect the entire dunes system and its biodiversity. Bison Tours are offered by Zapata Partners, who manage the herd of over 1000 bison on Nature Conservancy lands within national park boundaries.

This 1.5-2 hour tour takes you into the heart of a 50,000-acre pasture to see one of the largest free-roaming herds of bison
in the US. In addition to learning about the animals and management techniques of Zapata Ranch &The Nature Conservancy, this tour stops at the bison
working facilities, inspired by Temple Grandin, and the original Medano Ranch headquarters dating back to the 1870's and on the historic registry. Great
photo opportunities.

Where: 5305 State Highway 150 Mosca, CO 81146. Approximately 5 miles southwest of the entrance to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

When:9am and 12pm, by appointment, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Call 719-378-2356 x110 to schedule.

Cost: $50 per adult. $25 per child 6-12. 5 and under free.

Limit: 20 people per tour; last tour leaves at 12pm.

Directions to historic Zapata Ranch Headquarters where tour begins: Drive south from
Visitor Center on Highway 150. Five miles south of park entrance, you will see
a sign on the left "Zapata";this is not the one! A few hundred feet farther on
the right, you will see a sign "The Nature Conservancy's Zapata Ranch";this is
the one. Turn in and follow the road for a half-mile to the historic lodge. The
tour will start from the office.

 
Colorado Field Institute program

Colorado Field Institute sponsors in-depth programs on the natural and cultural resources of the San Luis Valley.

Photo by Erich Schwiesow, courtesy Colorado Field Institute

Colorado Field Institute Programs

Colorado Field Institute is a Colorado non-profit organization whose purpose is "To expand stewardship of the natural and cultural resources of the San Luis Valley while increasing sustainable economic development in the region." CFI-sponsored programs are primarily in-depth, outdoor activities developed to complement the programs of cultural and natural resource management agencies, including Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Please click on the link above for information on CFI's current schedule of programs.

 

Schedule of Events April - September 2015

April

Saturday, April 18 - Sunday, April 19
National Parks Fee Free Weekend

Great Sand Dunes along with 133 National Park Service units will waive entrance fees for visitors to experience America's treasures. Come and enjoy visitor center exhibits from 9am to 4:30pm and participate in a free ranger program or activity honoring the National Park Service.

May

Sunday, May 3, 3- 4:30 pm
Music in the Park

Great Sand Dunes welcomes acclaimed singer/song-writer, Don Richmond, to the park for a 1 hour
performance. The Friends of the Dunes-sponsored event will also include light snacks and hot beverages. This event is free to Friends of the Dunes members, and limited seating is available to the public for a small donation. Contact the visitor center to reserve a seat to this concert in the park.

Friday, May 22
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 22. All programs are free, fun, interactive, and designed to give visitors an understanding of all there is to see and do at Great Sand Dunes. This summer, in preparation for the National Park Service Centennial Celebration in 2016, Great Sand Dunes will also provide activities and programs for
visitors to learn about the more than 400 national park units. For a detailed list of programs, visit
www.nps.gov/grsa or call the visitor center at 719-378-6395. Visitor center is open starting May 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

June

Saturday, June 6, 9 am - 1 pm
Junior Ranger Day

Enjoy a morning full of junior ranger activities at the Visitor Center, Montville Nature Trail and Dunes Play Area. Kids of all ages can participate in a series
of activities to earn frisbees, t-shirts and other fun items. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Dunes. Plan to reserve camping and arrive early camping, lodging, and parking will fill quickly! This is the second busiest weekend of the year at the park.

Sunday, June 14 – Thursday, June 18
Ambassadors for Wilderness Junior High Session

Great Sand Dunes will welcome 10 San Luis Valley junior high students to participate in the park's immersive, outdoor leadership youth program. This program offers students the opportunity to explore the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area and participate in outdoor leadership skills while also completing a service project. Learn more about Ambassadors for Wilderness Youth Program.

July

Sunday, July 12 – Saturday, July 18
Ambassadors for Wilderness High School Session

Great Sand Dunes will welcome 10 San Luis Valley high school students to participate in the park's immersive, outdoor leadership youth program. This program offers students the opportunity to explore the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area and Great Sand Dunes Wilderness Area and participate in outdoor leadership skills while also completing a service project. Learn more about Ambassadors for Wilderness Youth Program.

Saturday, July 18
Friends of the Dunes Community Work Day

The Friends of the Dunes and Great Sand Dunes will identify a park enhancement project to complete alongside 20 community members. The Friends of the Dunes will also sponsor a lunch after the project. The Friends of the Dunes is a non-profit organization that provides volunteer and financial support towards protecting the Dunes and enriching visitors' experiences. To sign up to volunteer, contact the visitor center at 719-378-6395.

Sunday, July 26 –Friday, July 31
Ambassadors for Wilderness Advanced Session

Great Sand Dunes will welcome graduates of the Ambassadors for Wilderness program to participate in the park's advanced outdoor leadership youth program. This program offers graduates the opportunity to explore wilderness management in depth through hands-on seminars and exploratory field trips in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area and Great Sand Dunes Wilderness Area. Learn more about Ambassadors for Wilderness Youth Program.

August

Tuesday, August 4- Friday, August 7 - Great Sand Dunes/Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area Youth Summit

Great Sand Dunes, in partnership with Conservation Legacy, the State Historical Fund and the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, will be hosting a 4-day Youth Summit for 40 junior high and high school students from Colorado. The Youth Summit, "Celebrating Cultures: Next Generation Stewards", will allow participants to visit prehistoric and historic archeology sites and participate in cultural demonstrations to enhance their understanding of the myriad of cultures that called the San Luis Valley home while also understanding how current generations are preserving their heritage. For more information, view the event flyer. Contact the visitor center at 719-378-6395.

Saturday, August 15
Friends of the Dunes Community Work Day

The Friends of the Dunes and Great Sand Dunes will identify a park enhancement project to complete alongside 20 community members. The Friends of the Dunes will also sponsor a lunch after the project. The Friends of the Dunes is a non-profit organization that provides volunteer and financial support towards protecting the Dunes and enriching visitors' experiences. To sign up to volunteer, contact the visitor center at 719-378-6395.

Tuesday, 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 with ranger programs that highlight other special places that the National Park Service protects.

September

Saturday, September 6
National Public Lands Day

Explore a new park or protected area for freeduring National Public Lands Day. Seven federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and state regional and local governments participate in the annual day of caring for public lands. National Public Lands Day keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, the "tree army" that worked from 1933-1942 to preserve and protect America's natural heritage.

 

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