Saturday, April 15, 8:00am-11:30am
Sand Robotics Challenge, Sponsored by NASA and Adams State UniversityGreat Sand Dunes are very similar to the dunes on planet Mars, where NASA rovers explore and do scientific research. Each spring, NASA and Adams State University sponsor a sand robotics challenge, where college student teams and the general public can compete with their own homemade rovers and learn about the technology of Mars rovers! The competition takes place in the Medano Creekbed, outside the designated wilderness area of the dunefield. Learn more on the Colorado Space Consortium's website.
Friday, April 28, 12:00 pm
Free Concert in the Park: Durango High School Orchestra
The Durango High School Orchestra will perform a 30-minute afternoon concert at the visitor center. The group is traveling through on their way to compete in the Music in the Parks Festival in Denver. Musical selections will include work by W. A. Mozart, Richard Meyer, George Gershwin and more. This is a very talented group of young musicians!
Friday, May 26 – Monday, September 4
Summer Ranger Programming and Extended Visitor Center HoursGreat Sand Dunes will offer ranger programs and extended Visitor Center hours starting May 26 through Labor Day weekend. Evening programs are offered on weekends at the outdoor amphitheater. Afternoon programs allow visitors to learn more about significant resources of Great Sand Dunes. The Visitor Center will be open daily from 8:30am to 5pm.
Saturday, June 17, 8:30 a.m. – Noon
Ranger-Guided Hike to South Twin LakeJoin Park Ranger Patrick Myers for a free guided hike to South Twin Lake, a scenic wetland located in grasslands west of Great Sand Dunes. Hikers will meet at 8:30 a.m. at the Visitor Center, carpool to the trailhead 15 miles to the west, and return to the Visitor Center about noon. Seldom visited by people, South Twin Lake is home to amphibians and shore birds, and is occasionally visited by herds of elk. A small dune above the wetland provides a panoramic view of South Twin Lake, San Luis Lakes, the dunes, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The guided hike is about 2 miles round-trip, mostly across level ground. Hikers will discover and learn about some of the plants, animals, and history of the desert grassland and wetland environments. Bring water, sun protection, insect repellant, and a snack. Although this is not a strenuous hike, participants will need to walk off-trail across desert habitat, and crawl under one fence to access the lake. The round trip hike will likely be completed by 11:30 a.m., and the group will return to the Visitor Center by about noon. Limit of 20 people; call 719-378-6343 or stop by the Visitor Center to sign up for the hike. Hikers coming from Alamosa or other towns to the east may meet the group at the starting location just east of San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Area; ask for directions.
South Twin Lake is within national park boundaries, on land that is privately leased by The Nature Conservancy for bison grazing. The Nature Conservancy partners with the National Park Service in protecting the Great Sand Dunes’ ecological system and its biodiversity.
Saturday, July 22, 2pm
Book Signing and Presentation: Veronica Tiller, Author of Images of America: Jicarilla Apaches of Dulce
Join author, Veronica Tiller, at the visitor center for a presentation and conversation about the culture and history of the Jicarilla Apaches including their contributions to Colorado history. Her book, Images of America: The Jicarilla Apache of Dulce, chronicles the 1887-2000 history of the Jicarilla Apache through pictorial history. She is also the author of Jicarilla Apache Tribe: A History and The Culture and Customs of the Jicarilla Apache. Shortly after her presentation, join her for a book signing at the visitor center.
Saturday, August 5, 9 am – 1 pm
Junior Ranger DayThis year, Great Sand Dunes will celebrate Junior Ranger Day on Saturday, August 5 from 9am to 1pm. Activities will take place at the Dunes Parking Area with an orientation table and face painting at the South Ramada Picnic Area in the Mosca Creek picnic area. Activities will allow Junior Rangers to learn more about park resources and earn prizes. Collect a sticker after completing each activity and pick up your prizes at the South Ramada picnic area. This event is made possible with generous support from Friends of the Dunes and the staff and volunteers at Great Sand Dunes.
Saturday, August 12, 7pm
David Boye ConcertThe infinite allure of the national parks offers unmatched possibilities to encounter the ethereal sounds of the wilderness. Join composer and musician David Boye for a magical evening of instrumental acoustic guitar music capturing the beautiful vistas and wide open spaces of America's great outdoors in an evocative and uplifting musical experience. The musician and educator from Lincoln, Nebraska will be performing music from the compositions he has done for National Park Artist-in-Residence programs throughout the country. He will perform a free concert at the Great Sand Dunes Amphitheater on Saturday, August 12 at 7pm. Listen to David Boye's "Waterfalls" on YouTube.
Friday, July 7; Friday, September 8; and Thursday, October 5
Ranger-Guided Full Moon HikesExplore Great Sand Dunes by moonlight and view the moon from the dunes. A jacket, closed-toed shoes and a flashlight are recommended. Expect to spend an hour, round trip on the hike. Start times vary, check times on the park website or visitor center.
Friday, July 21, Friday, August 18, and Friday, October 20
Ranger-Guided Wilderness Night Hikes
Join park rangers on a hiking adventure into Great Sand Dunes Wilderness. Discover how plants, animals, the night sky and people all interact with one another. A jacket, close-toed shoes, and a flashlight are recommended. Expect to spend an hour round trip on the hike. Start times vary, check times on the park website or Visitor Center.
Saturday, August 19, 12:00pm-2:00pm
Children's Book Signing with Author Michelle Rodenburg
Author Michelle Rodenburg will be available on Saturday, August 19, from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm for a book signing of her children’s books, Colorado Creatures, an Alphabet book and The Twelve Days of summer in Colorado. Michelle is a well-established Colorado author whose books make reading fun as well as educational for children. Both books are available at the Western National Parks Association store in the visitor center, open 8:30am. to 5:00pm.
Saturday, August 26, 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Photographer Robert Castellino Book Signing
Author and photographer Robert Castellino will be signing copies of his book, Life and Light on the Land on Saturday, August 26 from 12:00pm to 2:00pm at the visitor center. Among his many photographic accomplishments, he is most highly regarded for writing, photographing and publishing five photographic story and guide books entitled “Boulder: Heart and Soul, People, and Place,” and “Colorado: Heart and Soul”, to name a few. His book is available at the Western National Parks Association store in the visitor center, 8:30am. to 5:00pm.
Saturday, September 9
Marilyn Feather Photography WorkshopMarilyn Feather will lead a free wilderness photography workshop from 4-8pm, focusing on the wild, natural character of the park and preserve. Participants will first have a short presentation of Feather's photography with insights into her techniques, followed by a short hike into the dunefield for photography in late afternoon and early evening. Marilyn Feather has been an resident artist at a wide variety of national parks and wilderness areas, and her work has been exhibited nationally. View numerous photos on Marilyn Feather's website. Limit 10 participants; register at 719-378-6343.
Saturday, September 22, 8:30 pm
Amateur Astronomy NightAstronomers of all levels are invited to Great Sand Dunes to share their time and telescopes, engaging the public with unique astronomy experiences! Guest speakers will kick off the evening, followed by telescope viewings of deep space objects, planets, and other unique celestial objects from a variety of scopes. Guest speakers to be announced soon. Layered clothing, red lights to protect night vision, and sturdy shoes are recommended.
September 30, 3:00pm - 7:00pm
iPhone Photography Workshop with William ProbeckWilliam Probeck will lead a unique free iPhone photography workshop on September 30, specifically focusing on this phone's capabilities to take surprisingly high-quality images. See some of Probeck's Great Sand Dunes photos on his website. Limit 10 participants; register at 719-378-6343.
Lynette O'Kane Artist Residency and WorkshopLynette O'Kane will be Artist-in-Residence during the first half of November 2017. Her residency plan is uniquely tied to the natural hydrology of the dunes and San Luis Valley, and her visceral mixed-media paintings include textural elements of sand, plaster and stucco blended with images of the natural world. She will lead a mixed-media workshop for all ages, tying in dunes geology and hydrology (date TBA). Learn more about Lynette O'Kane's work at lynetteokane.com.
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