Great Sand Dunes


This page features special events planned for 2024 at Great Sand Dunes. There are no reservations or fees for these events, but regular park entrance fees are in effect.

For the schedule of regular day and evening programs, please visit our Ranger Programs page.

Sandhill Cranes Flying in front of the Dunes
Sandhill cranes fly toward a wetland at sunset, with the dunes in the distance.

NPS/Patrick Myers

Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9, 2024
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Monte Vista Crane Festival

This annual event celebrates the return of 20,000 sandhill cranes to the San Luis Valley. Booths, tours, and programs are all part of this special event. Stop by the Great Sand Dunes booth March 8 and 9! Learn more: Monte Vista Crane Festival – Where the Cranes Meet the Mountains (

For more information about crane viewing locations, visit our Sandhill Crane Migration page.

A busy downtown event in Alamosa with booths and live music
Celebrate Great Sand Dunes in downtown Alamosa April 5

Visit Alamosa

Friday, April 5, 2024
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

We Love Our National Park Celebration

Alamosa hosts an annual evening in downtown each spring to celebrate Great Sand Dunes.

  • 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Booths and Activities
  • 7:00 pm Evening Ranger Program at San Luis Valley Museum: Stars Above the Sand. There are more stars than grains of sand! Through images and video, we’ll explore the unexpected wonders of the universe - from Great Sand Dunes, to other dunes in our solar system, to the first images of distant galaxies captured by the new James Webb Space Telescope. After the presentation, you can touch small pieces of our Moon and the planet Mars! 45 minutes.

Learn more: First Fridays: We Love Our National Park - Friday, April 05, 2024 (Events) (

Glowing galaxies are sprinkled across dark space
Galaxy cluster in deep space


Sunday, May 26, 2024
8:45 pm

Evening Program with Guest Speaker Dr. Matt Nehring

Adams State University Professor Dr. Nehring will present Galaxies: Islands in the Cosmos. Come learn about the astronomical structures known as galaxies - once described as island universes. The Milky Way Galaxy is our home and we are fortunate to be living in an age where we can use our phones and computers to pull up amazing photographs of other galaxies taken by impressive telescopes around the world and in space. In addition to viewing and appreciating some compelling pictures of galaxies, we will explore when and how we came to understand galaxies, the many sizes and shapes of galaxies, interactions and collisions between galaxies, a puzzle involving dark matter, and more. After the presentation, weather permitting, Dr. Nehring and a ranger will have telescopes available to peer into deep space. Amphitheater, 1 hour.

Dr. Matt Nehring earned his Ph.D. in experimental particle physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder and has been a professor of physics at Adams State University for the past 26 years where he teaches astronomy, physics, engineering, and computer science courses. Matt is also the Director of Zacheis Planetarium and the campus observatory and serves as the department chair for Engineering and Computer Science.

Regular ranger-led evening programs are posted weekly on the Ranger Programs page.

A painting of an older Dutch settler couple in traditional dress, with a homestead in the background
Mr. and Mrs. Van Hinte, two of many 19th century Dutch settlers in the San Luis Valley.

Painting by S. Bateo, used by permission

Friday, July 19, 2024
3:30 pm
Visitor Center

Dutch Heritage of the San Luis Valley

The first Dutch settlers came to this valley over 130 years ago. Some of their descendants will share the stories of how they settled here, their traditional culture and unique artforms. They will have Dutch items on display, and individually wrapped Dutch treats called Stroopwafels, made in Holland, for all who would like one! There are no signups or reservations for this program, which will be held in the Visitor Center movie room. The program itself is free, but regular park entrance fees are in effect.

Milky Way over Dune Ripples
Milky Way over Dune Ripples

NPS/Patrick Myers

Saturday, August 3rd, 2024
8:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Dark Skies Celebration

Join Great Sand Dunes rangers for a special evening program with extra telescopes and activities! More details to come as they are confirmed.

Regular summertime ranger-led evening programs are posted weekly on the Ranger Programs page.

A ranger and intern help two children do an activity on the sand at Junior Ranger Day
A ranger and an intern help two children do the Pronghorn Sprint at Junior Ranger Day.


Saturday, August 10, 2024
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Dunes Parking Area

Junior Ranger Day

Join us for Junior Ranger Day! Park at the Dunes Parking Area and follow signs to the registration table to get started. There will be various stations where kids can interactively learn about the dunes, artifacts, fossils, and wildlife, and earn prizes upon completion. Stop by anytime between 9am and 1pm to participate!

This special annual event is sponsored by Friends of the Dunes, a non-profit citizen’s support group for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. In cooperation with the National Park Service, the Friends provide a forum for citizen involvement in planning decisions, focus public interest on issues and need, and provide volunteer and financial aid for projects beyond the scope of the park’s budget. Learn more:

The full moon is over tall dunes and reflected in a shallow stream below
The full moon glows over the dunes and Medano Creek

NPS/Patrick Myers

Monday, August 19th, 2024

Full Moon Hike

Join Great Sand Dunes rangers for a hike under the full moon! More details to come as they are confirmed.

Three female Navajo dancers in colorful regalia weave a large sash while two Navajo men hold the sash and sing
The Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers at the park Amphitheater, 2023.

NPS/Patrick Myers

Saturday, August 31, 2024

Great Sand Dunes welcomes Shawn Price and the Dineh Tah’ Navajo Dancers for two special programs. These programs are free, but regular park entrance fees are in effect.

  • Lecture on the Navajo Treaty of 1868

    Visitor Center Auditorium, 3:00 pm

    The 1868 Navajo Treaty was a painful chapter in the history of the Navajo (Dineh) people. Join Shawn Price for a 45-minute lecture about the history surrounding this and other controversial treaties of that era.

  • Dineh Tah' Navajo Dancers

    Amphitheater, 6:30 pm

    The Dineh Tah' Navajo Dancers will perform traditional dances in the outdoor amphitheater, weather permitting.

Spanish dancers promenade in a circle with men in black and white and women in dresses
Los Vecinos Bailadores performed at the Hispanic Heritage Event in 2023. Details on the 2024 event will be posted as soon as they are confirmed.

NPS/Patrick Myers

Saturday, September 14, 2024

Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

with Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area

Learn about and celebrate Hispanic heritage of the San Luis Valley to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month! All events this day are free, but regular park entrance fees are in effect.

Event details will be posted as soon as they are confirmed!

A Navajo (Dineh) man, Mitchell Silas, kneels over a sand painting of a stylized figure of blue, yellow, black and white, with feathers
Mitchell Silas works on a sand painting during a demonstration.

Courtesy photo/Teresa Howell

Saturday, October 5, 2024

Sand Painting Workshop with Mitchell Silas

Mitchell Silas was born and raised on the Navajo (Dineh) reservation, and has been doing traditional sand painting for over 35 years. He has led demonstrations and workshops in schools, museums, and public spaces throughout the world, reaching across many cultures.

The workshop time and details will be announced as they become finalized.


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Last updated: June 6, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca, CO 81146


719 378-6395
Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center main number

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