by Alex Gugel , all rights reserved

Great Sand Dunes

National Park & Preserve - Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is in southern Colorado. It’s known for huge dunes like the towering Star Dune, and for the seasonal Medano Creek and beach created at the base of the dunes. The backcountry Medano Pass Primitive Road winds through a canyon toward the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Trails lead to forests, wetlands and alpine lakes like Medano Lake, which is home to trout and tundra wildlife.

maps

Official Visitor Map of Santa Fe National Historic Trail (NHT) in Colorado, Kansas, Misouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Santa Fe - National Historic Trail

Official Visitor Map of Santa Fe National Historic Trail (NHT) in Colorado, Kansas, Misouri, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Official visitor map of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (NP & PRES) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).Great Sand Dunes - Visitor Map

Official visitor map of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve (NP & PRES) in Colorado. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units

Map of the U.S. National Park System. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Park Units and Regions

Map of the U.S. National Park System with Unified Regions. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).National Park System - National Heritage Areas

Map of the U.S. National Heritage Areas. Published by the National Park Service (NPS).

Motor Vehicle Travel Map (MVTM) of San Carlos Ranger District in San Isabel National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).San Isabel MVTM - San Carlos Back 2020

Motor Vehicle Travel Map (MVTM) of San Carlos Ranger District in San Isabel National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

Motor Vehicle Travel Map (MVTM) of San Carlos Ranger District in San Isabel National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).San Isabel MVTM - San Carlos Front 2020

Motor Vehicle Travel Map (MVTM) of San Carlos Ranger District in San Isabel National Forest (NF) in Colorado. Published by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).

https://www.nps.gov/grsa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Sand_Dunes_National_Park_and_Preserve Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is in southern Colorado. It’s known for huge dunes like the towering Star Dune, and for the seasonal Medano Creek and beach created at the base of the dunes. The backcountry Medano Pass Primitive Road winds through a canyon toward the Sangre de Cristo mountains. Trails lead to forests, wetlands and alpine lakes like Medano Lake, which is home to trout and tundra wildlife. Open 24/7 year round! There are no reservations to visit or limit on the number of visitors in the park and preserve, but there is currently limited capacity in the visitor center. The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Explore this website to learn more! To access the main park area, including the Dunes Parking Lot, Visitor Center, and Pinon Flats Campground, take US 160 to CO 150 from the south, or CO 17 to Lane 6 to CO 150 from the west. The national park is at the north end of CO 150. Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center The visitor center offers flush toilets and drinking water. It also features a park store and information. Park rangers are available to answer questions and help you plan your hikes. From CO Highway 160: Between the towns of Alamosa, CO, and Blanca, CO, there will be large brown signs marking the turn off to the park. Turn north on CO State Highway 150. Drive straight (north) for 15 miles to the entrance of the park. From CO Highway 17: Near the town of Mosca, CO, turn onto County Road LN 6. At the end of the road, turn left (north) onto CO State Highway 150. This road will take you into the National Park. Backpacking Campsites in the Dunes or Forest The most popular and unique backpacking option is camping in the 30-square-mile dunefield, beyond the major dune ridgeline (about 1.5 mile hike minimum over dunes). Enjoy wide open views of the starry sky or a bright moonlit night. Designated sites are also available in the trees of the foothills, or camping is available in higher forests of Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. Reserve national park backpacking permits for the dunes or foothills through recreation.gov Backpacking Permit Fee 6.00 Fee to make a required reservation for a backpacking permit through recreation.gov Backpacking in the Dunes Backpackers walking on eastern side of dunefield Backpacking in the dunes is a unique experience, with open views of the sky. Backpacker in Dunefield Girl with backpack viewing dunes at sunset Backpacking into the dunes is a unique experience, with open views of the sky. Medano Pass Primitive Road Campsites Roadside camping is permitted at 21 campsites in Great Sand Dunes National Preserve beginning 5.2 miles from where the road begins near Piñon Flats Campground. These designated sites are free of charge and first-come, first-served. All 21 sites fill on summer weekends. Passable only in the warmer months and only with high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles. This road crosses areas of deep sand, traverses Medano Creek nine times, and passes through excellent habitat for bighorn sheep. Free Camping in Sites along Medano Pass Road 0.00 Campsites are free and first-come, first-served on the Medano Pass Road. 4WD Medano Pass Primitive Road Jeep driving through a creek crossing and aspen trees A full-size SUV, Jeep or truck with 4WD is required to access Medano Pass Primitive Road campsites Truck pulling off into campsite along Medano Pass Primitive Road Dark grey truck beside dirt road with tall pine trees Campsites along the road generally have tall trees for shade. Piñon Flats Campground Piñon Flats is a National Park Service campground located one mile north of the Visitor Center, open April through October. All sites are by reservation on recreation.gov. Individual sites can be reserved up to 6 months in advance, and group sites can be reserved up to 1 year in advance. Individual Site, Per Night 20.00 One campsite for one night, tent or RV, picnic table, fire ring and grate, nearby restroom with flush toilets, sinks, and dishwashing basin. Pinon Flats Campground Pinon Flats Campground Pinon Flats Campground Deer in Pinon Flats Campground Deer graze beside tents and RVs in a campground, with dunes and mountains in the background Mule deer graze at the edge of Pinon Flats Campground Deer near a campsite in Pinon Flats Campground Mule deer graze in a campground with small trees and dunes in the background Mule deer sometimes visit Pinon Flats Campground Evening in Pinon Flats Campground A tent and RV in a campground with small trees, with a snow-capped mountain in background Mount Herard stands above Pinon Flats Campground on an early summer evening Sunset over Dunes from Pinon Flats Campground A campsite and tent sit in a scene of grasslands, forest, dunes, and a snow-capped mountain Sites in the lower half of Loop 1 have less trees but more open views of the dunes Dunes and Crestone Peaks at Sunset Grasslands, large dunes, and snow-capped peaks at sunset The view at the park entrance contrasts giant dunes and snow-capped mountains. Girls Sand Sledding Girls Sand Sledding Rent specially designed sand sleds to slide on the dry sand. Note: cardboard, snow sleds, saucers, and other items don't slide on dry sand. Elk, Grasslands, Dunes, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains Elk, Grasslands, Dunes, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains Elk are sometimes seen by visitors along the park entrance road or County Lane 6, primarily fall through spring. Lower Sand Creek Lake, Great Sand Dunes National Preserve Lower Sand Creek Lake, Great Sand Dunes National Preserve Spectacular alpine lakes are part of the backcountry of Great Sand Dunes National Preserve Upper Sand Creek Basin, Great Sand Dunes National Preserve Upper Sand Creek Basin, Great Sand Dunes National Preserve Sand Creek Basin, part of Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, contains lush forests and alpine lakes. Fall Colors Along Mosca Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park Fall Colors Along Mosca Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park Fall is a pretty time to visit the park, with great colors and generally nice weather. Gold Cottonwoods, Dunes, and Cleveland Peak Gold cottonwood trees, large dunes, a silver cloud, and snow-capped mountain Experiencing Great Sand Dunes in the quieter seasons of fall and winter can be a rewarding experience. Girl Floating Medano Creek A teen girl sits on a floatation device Visitors can float Medano Creek's waves during late spring peak flow, in years of good snowpack National Park Service Visitor and Resource Protection Staff Focuses on Week of Leadership Staff from all levels of the National Park Service in law enforcement, United States Park Police, as well as fire and aviation spent a week learning leadership lessons from one another as well as from a diverse group of leaders during the last week of September 2019. A group of women and men on a rocky outcrop in high desert. Cleaner Snow Reveals Cleaner Air in Rocky Mountain Network Parks Few things look more pristine than a fresh blanket of snow, yet each snowflake naturally carries small particles from the atmosphere. When snowflakes build around these particles, the resulting snowfall can bring pollutants from far away into our national parks. Long-term snow chemistry monitoring is showing some improvements in air quality at Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks, and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Snowpack Sampling at Apgar Lookout in Glacier National Park NPS Geodiversity Atlas—Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado Each park-specific page in the NPS Geodiversity Atlas provides basic information on the significant geologic features and processes occurring in the park. Links to products from Baseline Geologic and Soil Resources Inventories provide access to maps and reports. [Site Under Development] stream, dunes, and mountains The Legacies of Latino Homesteaders Learn how Latino Heritage Intern, Verónica Barreto, researched and discovered fascinating facts about Latino homesteaders. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave citizens of the world an opportunity to obtain Free Land! Discover how these homesteaders materialized their American Dream through the Homestead Act. Pikas in Peril The National Park Service stewards pika populations in more than a dozen parks and seeks to understand the vulnerability of pikas and other mountain species to climate change. Pikas in Peril, funded in 2010, was a collaborative research program directed by scientists from the National Park Service, Oregon State University, University of Idaho, and University of Colorado-Boulder. Profile of a pika on rough, dark red lava rock. © Michael Durham Park Air Profiles - Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Air quality profile for Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Gives park-specific information about air quality and air pollution impacts for Great Sand Dunes NP & Pres as well as the studies and monitoring conducted for Great Sand Dunes NP & Pres. Sandhill cranes doing a mating dance in Great Sand Dunes NP & Pres Wildland Fire in Douglas Fir: Western United States Douglas fir is widely distributed throughout the western United States, as well as southern British Columbia and northern Mexico. Douglas fir is able to survive without fire, its abundantly-produced seeds are lightweight and winged, allowing the wind to carry them to new locations where seedlings can be established. Close-up of Douglas fir bark and needles. Fulgurites: The Power of Lightning See evidence of the incredible power of lightning by what it leaves behind in sand dunes. Fulgurite (sand fused by lightning) in sand dunes Checking Great Sand Dunes' Vital Signs In 2007, the Rocky Mountain Inventory and Monitoring Network—a small team of NPS scientists—began monitoring natural resources, called “vital signs,” in Great Sand Dunes and nearby park units. Vital signs indicate park health and serve as red flags if conditions deteriorate, supporting park managers’ efforts to make science-based management decisions. Learn about the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Division and its work in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. snowy mountain with golden, fall colored forest on lower slopes and sand dunes in the foreground The Singing Sands of Great Sand Dunes Does sand sing? It does at Great Sand Dunes! Hear this natural phenomena in action. Girl sandboarding down a sand dune Wildland Fire in Ponderosa Pine: Western United States This forest community generally exists in areas with annual rainfall of 25 inches or less. Extensive pure stands of this forest type are found in the southwestern U.S., central Washington and Oregon, southern Idaho and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Recently burned ponderosa pine forest. Removal of artesian wells in Great Sand Dunes National Park and its aftermath on small mammals, plant cover, and area disturbance by ungulates Resource managers of protected arid lands need to understand the ecological changes that may occur with the removal of artificial water sources, especially in light of climate change and predicted increase in drought frequency. Bison drink from an open well (Credit: Colorado State University and USGS/Sarah J. Garza) The Indian Grove within Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Located near a mountain pass and a perennial water source within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a stand of approximately 200 ponderosa pine trees, of which 72 trees have been culturally modified —that is, altered by people. Known as the Indian Grove, the ponderosa pines with their tall, straight trunks and rusty orange bark composed of broad plates, were peeled and harvested by the Ute, Apache, and other indigenous people in the 19th century. Two people stand next to a large pine tree. Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas The servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geoheritage-conservation.htm">geoheritage</a> and <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/geodiversity.htm">geodiversity</a> resources and values all across the National Park System to support science-based management and education. The <a href="https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1088/index.htm">NPS Geologic Resources Division</a> and many parks work with National and International <a href="https://www.nps.gov/subjects/geology/park-geology.htm">geoconservation</a> communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available. park scene mountains Series: Park Air Profiles Clean air matters for national parks around the country. Photo of clouds above the Grand Canyon, AZ Water Balance Underlies Natural Resource Conditions at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve As climate change intensifies, land managers need to understand its multifaceted effects on the ground. We used an old tool—water balance—in new ways to better understand how vegetation, stream flow, and wildfire ignitions respond to climate across the range of elevations and vegetation types in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Case studies like this highlight the value of using water balance analyses for climate change adaptation. Bright green vegetation in front of stream at base of tall sand dunes with mountains behind. Introduction to the Geology of Great Sand Dunes The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, forests, lakes, and alpine tundra. 'Surge flow' occurs during peak snowmelt in late spring. Medano Creek Flowing at the Base of Great Sand Dunes Introduction to Mammals of Great Sand Dunes Wetland, desert, and Rocky Mountain mammal species all live at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve! Kangaroo rat on sand Introduction to Plants of Great Sand Dunes An introduction to the diverse plant life of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pink blossoms in grasslands, dunes in the background Introduction to Reptiles at Great Sand Dunes Few reptiles can live at this high elevation, but there are a few which can withstand the extreme conditions. Pictured: Short-horned lizard camouflaged on sand. A sand-colored round lizard camouflaged on sand Great Sand Dunes' Founding Legislation: A Timeline A timeline of Great Sand Dunes becoming a national monument, wilderness area, and national park and preserve. Interior Secretary Gale Norton declares Great Sand Dunes a National Park and Preserve, 2004. Introduction to Amphibians of Great Sand Dunes Discover the unexpected presence of amphibians in these desert dunes! A camouflaged spadefoot toad on sand Introduction to Fish of Great Sand Dunes An introduction to rare fish species found in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve A trout with black spots and red throat in water Introduction to Birds of Great Sand Dunes An introduction to the 250 species of birds of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Two sandhill cranes in snow, one standing and one dancing
Visitor Guide Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Experience the best of the dunes, mountains, and the park after dark! Medano Creek, May Welcome! Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects the tallest dunes in North America… and a whole lot more. The park and preserve contain ecosystems ranging from wetlands to forest to tundra—each supporting specially adapted plant, animal and insect life. Make the most of your visit by taking the time to experience this diversity in your national park! Morning Light on Dunes and Cottonwood Trees, October 2-3 The Best of the Dunes and Hikes in the Main Use Area Superintendent Pam Rice 4-5 The Best of the Mountains 6 The Best of the Park After Dark A map of trails and destinations, plus tips for safe travel How to experience the night at Great Sand Dunes Trip planning suggestions Safety Tips: Protect Yourself and Your Park Emergency Calls Dial 911 for emergencies or contact the visitor center for assistance. Cell service is not consistently reliable within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes NP&P. Hot Sand In summer months during mid-day, sand temperatures can reach 150 degrees F. Hike during the morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion and/or burned feet. Wear closed-toe shoes. Lightning Lightning can occur anytime during the warmer months (especially July – August), when afternoon storms approach the dunes. Avoid fatal lightning strikes by experiencing the dunes and other open areas during morning hours. Remain in a building or vehicle until 30 minutes after the last thunder. If you are in immediate danger, crouch in a low-lying area on top of a backpack or other item to prevent a ground charge. Wildlife Rangers enforce speed limits to prevent injury or death of wildlife. Please abide by speed limits. To protect yourself and wildlife, never feed wild animals. Store food and scented items in your vehicle or bear-proof containers located in Piñon Flats Campground and Medano Pass Primitive Road. Bear hangs or bear containers are required when camping in the national park backcountry. Information sheets about bear and mountain lion country are available at the visitor center. High Winds Winds are possible any time of the year. Especially during the spring season, storm fronts can produce high winds which cause sand to move. Hike during these conditions at your own risk. If hiking during windy conditions, consider wearing eye protection, long sleeves and pants to avoid getting sand-blasted. If sand gets in your eyes, fush with water or saline solution. Check at the visitor center or on the park website for weather forecasts and conditions. High Elevation Elevations within the park and preserve range from 8,200 feet to 13,604 feet (2,499m to 4,146m). Visitors should stay hydrated, wear sun protection, and hike slowly. Visitors hiking in the higher-elevation backcountry should pack layers to avoid hypothermia. If you experience shortness of breath, headaches or nausea: rest, hydrate and slowly descend from your elevation. Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) To protect wildlife, emergency operations, and visitor privacy and enjoyment, it is illegal to launch, land, or operate an unmanned aircraft from within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or other national park units. Marijuana Recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado, but the consumption and possession of marijuana is ILLEGAL on federal lands, including national parks in Colorado. Individuals will be cited and fned for illegal activity within Great Sand Dunes. First Aid Items Bandages, sun protection, pain reliever, allergy medicine, eye drops and sanitary items can be purchased in the visitor center year round. These items are also available at the store in the campground, and at the Oasis store outside park boundaries, during the main spring through operating season. Contact a ranger at the visitor center for phone numbers of local pharmacies and clinics. fall Use Keep wildlife wild. campsite bear-proof boxes. Hiking and Exploring Main Use Area Area Shown from Dunes Parking High Dune on First Ridge • In summer, hike early morning or o evening to avoid 150 F (66oC) sand temperatures and lightning. • View of entire dunefeld • Round trip hike: 2.5 miles (4 km) - no trails • Elevation gain: 699 feet (213 m) • Average Time: 2 hours • Hike along ridges from Montville/ Mosca Pass Trailhead Dunes Overlook • View of frst ridge of dunes • Round trip hike: 2.3 miles (3.7 km) • Elevation gain: 450 feet (137 m) • Average time: 2 hours from Point of No Return Montville Nature Trail • Forest, Mosca Creek, and view of frst ridge of dunes • Pick up a trail guide at the visitor center during business hours. • Round trip hike: 0.5 mile (1 km) • Elevation gain: 200 feet (61 m) • Average time: 30 minutes Mosca Pass Trail • Forest, Mosca Creek, meadows, views of forested ridges • Round trip hike: 7 miles (11 km) • Elevation gain: 1400 feet (427 m) • Average time: 3.5
Visitor Guide Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Great dunes, great mountains... and great experiences! Welcome! Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects the tallest dunes in North America… and a whole lot more. The park and preserve contain ecosystems ranging from wetlands to forest to tundra—each supporting specially adapted plant, animal and insect life. Make the most of your visit by experiencing this diversity! Snowy Dunes, March Medano Creek, May View from Mosca Canyon along the Mosca Creek Trail, October 2-3 Exploring Main Use Area 4-5 Exploring Backcountry Trip planning suggestions and nearby attractions A map of trails and destinations, plus tips for safe travel 6-7 General Info Amenities within the park and local area such as lodging, camping, rentals, events and programs, entrance fees Safety Tips: Protect Yourself and Your Park Hot Sand In summer months during mid-day, sand temperatures can reach 150 degrees F. Hike during the morning or evening to avoid heat exhaustion and/or burned feet. Wear closed-toe shoes. Lightning Lightning can occur anytime during the warmer months (especially July – August), when afternoon storms approach the dunes. Avoid fatal lightning strikes by experiencing the dunes and other open areas during morning hours. Remain in a building or vehicle until 30 minutes after the last thunder. If you are in immediate danger, crouch in a low-lying area on top of a pack to prevent a ground charge. High Winds Winds are possible any time of the year. Especially during the spring season, storm fronts can produce high winds which cause sand to blow. Hike during these conditions at your own risk. If hiking during windy conditions, consider wearing eye protection, long sleeves and pants to avoid getting sand-blasted. If sand gets in your eyes, flush with water or saline solution. Check at the visitor center or on the park website for weather forecasts and conditions. High Elevation Elevations within the park and preserve range from 8,200 feet to 13,604 feet (2,499m - 4,146m). Visitors new to this elevation should stay hydrated, wear sun protection, and hike slowly. Visitors hiking in the higher-elevation backcountry should pack layers to avoid hypothermia. If you experience shortness of breath, headaches and nausea: rest, hydrate and slowly descend from your elevation. Wildlife Protect yourself and Great Sand Dunes wildlife by never feeding animals. Store food and scented items in your vehicle or bear-proof containers located in Piñon Flats Campground and Medano Pass Primitive Road. Bear hangs or bear containers are required when camping in the national park backcountry. Adhere to park speed limits to avoid injuring or killing animals and damaging your vehicle. Information sheets about camping and hiking in bear and mountain lion country are available at the visitor center. Emergency Calls Dial 911 for emergencies or contact the visitor center for assistance. Cell service is not consistently reliable within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes NPP. First Aid Items and Medicines Bandages, sun protection, pain reliever, allergy medicine, eye drops and sanitary items can be purchased in the visitor center year round. These items are also available at the store in the campground, and the Oasis store outside park boundaries, during the main spring through fall operating season. Contact a ranger at the visitor center for phone numbers of local pharmacies and clinics. Unmanned Aircraft (Drones) To protect wildlife, emergency operations, and visitor privacy, it is illegal to launch or land an unmanned aircraft within the boundaries of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve or other national park units. Marijuana Recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado, but the consumption and possession of marijuana is ILLEGAL on federal lands, including national parks in Colorado. Individuals will be cited and fined for illegal activity within Great Sand Dunes. Keep wildlife wild. Use campsite bear-proof boxes. Exploring: Main Use Area Area Shown from Dunes Parking High Dune on First Ridge • In summer, hike early morning or  o evening to avoid 150 F (66oC) sand or lightning • View of entire dunefield • Round trip hike: 2.5 miles (4 km) - no trails • Elevation gain: 699 feet (214 m) • Average Time: 2 hours • Hike on tops of ridges for fastest travel • Best photography opportunities are at sunrise and sunset when shadows form Medano Creek (seasonal) • The depth of the creek, and length of time the creek sustains its depth, is dependent on precipitation and snow melt. This will vary each year. • In an average year, the creek flows April through June at the Dunes Parking Area • Peak flow with surge waves typically occurs from late May to early June • The creek is adjacent to the Dunes Parking Area, easily accessible for all. Splash, play and wade in this unique natural beach environment! 2 Visitor Guide from Montville/ Mosca Pass Trailhead from Piñon F
Exploring the Park from Streams to Summits The park is open 24 hours a day, all year. Visitor center hours vary by season: Call 719-378-6399. Entrance fees, $3 per person aged 16 and up, are good for one week. Several park and federal passes are honored: See the park newspaper or check www.nps.gov/grsa. You can enjoy ranger-led programs and events, go birding, swim, picnic, hike, backpack, photograph, stargaze, ride horses, climb dunes, or go sandboarding, skiing, sledding, or highclearance four-wheeling (ATVs prohibited). We strive to make facilities and programs accessible to persons with disabilities. For details ask at the visitor center or ask a park ranger. The Dunes parking lot has accessible mats to the creek and viewing platform. Ask at the visitor center about sand wheelchairs for loan and accessible campsites. More than Sand Dunes You can explore the mountains, foothills, diverse forests, and grasslands here as well as sand dunes. Groups may reserve free ranger-led programs in advance: Call 719-378-6399. Safety Don’t trust computer road mapping here. The only paved-highway access is via US 160 and CO 150 from the south, or CO 17 and County Lane 6 from the west. • Lightning strikes can be fatal: If you see a thunderstorm, get off the dunes! Storms and cold weather can occur any time of the year. • Summer sand surfaces reach 140ºF. Hike dunes in early mornings or evenings then. Wear closed-toe shoes and moni- tor pets’ feet. • Elevations range from 7,500 to nearly 14,000 feet: Seek medical advice about doing vigorous exercise. Elevation sickness symptoms are short breath, headache, and nausea. Drink lots of water. Great Sand Dunes is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Serv­ice programs in America’s communities, please visit www.nps.gov. Get a copy of “Wild Ways” at the visitor center to learn about bears and mountain lions. Store food, toiletries, and trash in bear-proof boxes in campgrounds. Do not feed any wildlife. It is dangerous for you and unhealthy for them. Great Sand Dunes Wilderness In 1976 Congress designated the Great Sand Dunes Wilderness for protection under the 1964 Wilderness Act. The 33,549-acre wilderness of dunes and mountains abuts the 220,803-acre Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. Wilderness designation protects forever the land’s wilderness character, natural conditions, opportunities for solitude, and scientific, educational, and historical values. In wilderness, people can sense being a part of the whole community of life on Earth. Preserving wilderness shows restraint and humility, and it benefits generations to come. More Information Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve 11999 Highway 150 Mosca, CO 81146-9798 719-378-6300 www.nps.gov/grsa These are public roads, but please respect private property in the Baca Grande Subdivision. Origins of the Dunes This map of the park and preserve shows how wind and water move sand, continually forming dunes. Most sand comes from the San Juan Mountains, over 65 miles to the west. Larger, rougher grains and pebbles come from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (right). Sand and sediments from both ranges washed into a huge lake once covering the valley floor. As the lake shrank, prevailing southwesterly winds (large white arrow) bounced sand grains to pile up beneath the Sangre de Cristos or to be washed back toward the valley floor (small blue arrows). Northeasterly storm winds (small white arrows) blast through mountain passes, piling dunes back on themselves and creating North America’s tallest dunes. Research suggests that the dunes are less than 440,000 years old, but we don’t yet know their exact age. Medano Creek wave surges (seasonal) Emergencies call 911 Tall trees, Montville Trail Sand Creek Lakes area ✩GPO:20xx—xxx-xxx/xxxxx Reprint 20xx Printed on recycled paper.

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