Great Sand Dunes National Park
11999 Highway 150
Mosca, CO 81146
Welcome to the Great
Great Sand Dunes National Park and
Preserve is a National Park located in the easternmost parts of
Alamosa County and Saguache County, Colorado. Originally designated
Great Sand Dunes National Monument, Great Sand Dunes National Park and
Preserve was created by an act of the United States Congress on
September 13, 2004. The park contains approximately 85,000 acres.
Places to Picnic:
- Castle Creek
- Sand Pit
- Visitor Center
Explore the tallest dunes in North
America! Whether hiking, sliding, exploring in a dunes wheelchair - or
simply playing - the Great Sand Dunes are a unique wilderness area
protected for all to enjoy. Find out how these dunes were formed.
Creeks and Streams
Water is the lifeblood of the Great
Sand Dunes system. Streams begin as mountain snowfields, melting then
flowing through alpine lakes, forests, dunes, grasslands, and lush
wetlands. Explore the flowing waters of Great Sand Dunes.
Explore the mountain watershed of the
Great Sand Dunes. Rugged 13,000' summits, alpine lakes, tundra, and
ancient forests are protected in Great Sand Dunes National Preserve.
With high-clearance 4WD, ascend the Medano Pass Primitive Road.
Grasslands, Shrublands, and Wetlands
Explore the grasslands, shrublands and
wetlands that surround Great Sand Dunes on three sides.
The park contains the tallest sand
dunes in North America, rising about 750 feet from the floor of the
San Luis Valley on the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range,
covering about 19,000 acres. They are perhaps 12,000 years old.
The dunes were formed from sand
deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the
San Luis Valley. Over the ages, westerly winds picked up sand
particles from the river flood plain. As the wind lost power before
crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the
east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are
slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.
The dunes and surrounding area were
designated a National Monument in 1932. On November 22, 2000, United
States President Bill Clinton signed the Great Sand Dunes National
Park and Preserve Act of 2000, aiming at ultimate national park
status. With the help of the Nature Conservancy, the federal
government purchased 97,000 acres of the Baca Ranch, which in effect
tripled the size of the park.
The purchase includes those sections of
the ranch which previously bordered the park on the north and west
sides and also included 14,165 feet Kit Carson Mountain and 14,080
feet subpeak Challenger Point, and the water drainages to the south.
The land purchased was split into three sections.
Part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
would be transferred to the Rio Grande National Forest, another
section to the west would be set aside as a wildlife area and would
host a wild bison herd and the last section to the east would be
transferred from the Rio Grande National Forest and would be open to
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