The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The dunes are thought to have formed about 12,000 years ago when the Rio Grande, full of glacial meltwater from the melting of Ice Age glacers, spread sand and other degris across the San Luis Valley. After the valley dried out, winds are thought to have carried the sand to the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The dunes cover an area of 40 square miles and is open to the public year round. Stop in the visitors center to learn more, play in the waters of Medano Creek, summit and sandboard the tallest dunes in North America, hike the rocky mountain trails, camp under the dark night skys and watch for amazing wildlife.

In addition to preserving and interpreting the animals, plants and ecosystems, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve also interprets the early cultural history of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Topics include prehistoric hunters and gatherers, the more recent Ute, Apache and Navajo cultural connections and the evolution of settlement, use and development of surrounding lands. The park offers free education programs for schools and other groups as well as regularly scheduled interpretive programs in the warmer months.

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