Search Underway for Missing Park Visitor

For Immediate Release

May 17, 2017

General Press inquiries: Katherine Faz, Public Information Officer, 719-582-0258 or

A search and rescue effort for a missing park visitor was initiated Monday, May 15, at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. An unattended vehicle located in the park’s Sand Pit picnic area parking lot along Medano Pass Primitive Road since the weekend of May 7th alerted park staff to further investigate the location of the visitor and follow up on the safety of that visitor.

Multiple resources including aviation crews, park staff, and search dog teams are currently engaged in the search efforts. The search area includes 14 square miles of rugged terrain in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area around Mount Herard. Additional resources are expected to join the search efforts on Wednesday, May 17.

General media inquiries should be directed to Public Information Officer, Kathy Faz at 719-582-0258. The park will release additional information as we learn more.

Tourism to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve creates $28 million in Economic Benefits

Report shows visitor spending supports 348 jobs in local economy

Mosca, CO – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 388,807 visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in 2016 spent $23,701,000 in communities near the park. That spending supported 348 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $28 million.

“We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides”, said Acting Superintendent Scott Stonum. “NPS employees care for the parks and interpret the stories of these iconic natural, cultural and historic landscapes, but it takes our nearby communities to fully provide our visitors with food, lodging and other services that complete a national park experience.” In 2016, Great Sand Dunes saw a 30% increase in visitation due to increase media attention for the National Park Service Centennial celebrations, Medano creek flow, lower gas prices, and the increase in population within the state. The park supported a variety of programs and special events for the Centennial throughout the summer and fall months to accommodate the increase in visitors, which in turn contributed to more visitors enjoying the local community.

The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $ 34.9 billion.

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5%).

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis and interactive tool was created by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies, and also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage:

To learn more about national parks in Colorado and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to For more information about the economic benefits of Great Sand Dunes, contact Kathy Faz at or 719-378-6341.

Kathy and Willa celebrate Every Kid in a Park
Great Sand Dunes Park Ranger, Kathy Faz, presents San Luis Valley 4th grader, Willa Seesz-Sanchez with her Every Kid in a Park free access pass.

Great Sand Dunes Welcomes 4th Grade Students through "Every Kid in a Park"

National Program Encourages Families and Classes to Visit National Parks

Great Sand Dunes invites all 4th grade students to visit the park for free as part of the "Every Kid in a Park" program. Fourth grade students can visit to complete an activity and obtain a voucher. Bring your voucher to a National Park Service site and exchange it for a free annual entry pass to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national park units, wildlife refuge areas, and US national forests! View full press release (pdf) >

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Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146


(719) 378-6395

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