Time to surf the sand!

Coloradans have been inside for a long time, and just as warmer temperatures move in, we're seeing parts of the state slowly reopen to the joy of those who long for some sunshine and fresh air. Yesterday was a joyful day for many who headed out to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve for the first time in months.

The beloved park, located near Alamosa in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, opened up on Wednesday, June 3, as part of its phased reopening plan. If Phase 1 is successful, Phase 2 will be rolled out mid-June, depending on staff capacity, supplies, and local and state safety guidelines. 

“We are excited to welcome visitors back to the park and support our local communities,” said Park Superintendent Pamela Rice. “As the public returns to the park, we ask that they practice social distancing and follow national and state guidance to keep park staff, local residents, and the general public safe.”

Starting June 3, visitors can access these areas:

  • Main park road.
  • Dunes parking area and the dunefield.
  • The Medano Pass Primitive Road (if road conditions allow), including established campsites on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • All trails: Mosca Pass, Montville Nature, Sand Sheet Loop, Wellington Ditch, Dunes Overlook, Sand Ramp, Medano Lake, and Music Pass.
  • All picnic areas: Mosca Creek, Sand Pit, and Castle Creek.
  • Entrance Station, including the collection of fees if authorized.

The following areas remain closed:

  • Visitor Center (Limited services provided outside).
  • South Ramada group picnic site in the Mosca Creek Picnic Area.
  • Pinon Flats Campground.
  • Overnight backcountry access in the National Park, including the dune field and sites along the Sand Ramp Trail.

Social distancing measures are in place, and visitors are asked to follow them to keep everyone safe, as well as to observe the Leave No Trace principles the park follows. Visitors are also asked to avoid crowding, practice proper hand-washing, avoid high-risk outdoor activities, and wear cloth face masks in crowded areas, particularly around the visitor center and restroom facilities, in an effort to prioritize the health and safety of staff and visitors. 

The reopening was a grateful reprieve for businesses in the area who rely on the stream of visitors the park gets each spring and summer to stay afloat. Medano Creek is a well-known attraction for nature lovers in the state, often called one of Colorado’s best beaches.

Will you be heading out to the dunes now that they are open to the public again? Share your thoughts with us, and any awesome sand surfing pictures you have in the comments below.