Latest News – August 22

Happy 100 Years to National Park Service

The National Park Service turns 100 on August 25, 2016, and everyone can take part in the celebration!San Dunes Aug 25_27

The centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs.  And our favorite National Park is just down the way: The Great Sand Dunes!

This week, 400 national parks and monuments – including the four in Colorado – will offer free admission as part of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service.

The national parks in Colorado include Rocky Mountain National Park, which covers 415 squares miles and more than 300 hiking trails; Mesa Verde, with its thousands of archaeological sites; Great Sand Dunes, which offers a diverse landscape and even “sand sledding”; and Black Canyon of the Gunnison, where the river has carved through rock over millions of years.

The Great Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley offers the mountains and "the beach," and this week is fee-free in honor of National Parks Week.

The Great Sand Dunes in the San Luis Valley offers the mountains and “the beach,” and this week is fee-free in honor of National Parks Week.

 

The National Park Service 100th Birthday celebration at Great Sand Dunes starts Thursday, Aug. 25 and peaks with the Rapidgrass Quintet concert Saturday evening! Park entrance and all events are FREE! Here’s the schedule August 25-28:

Thursday, August 25 – Fee Free Day!

  • 1 p.m. Discovery Activity – Discover how the dunes were formed and other fascinating aspects of the park and preserve. Visitor Center, 25 minutes
  • 2 p.m. Official Centennial Kick-off – Stop by the visitor center for light refreshments, cookies & lighting of the anniversary cake. Visitor Center
  • 3:30 p.m.  Afternoon Program – “Art for All Ages” – Come paint the dunes with a Ranger-artist and learn about the unique environment surrounding you! Art supplies will be provided. Visitor Center, 30 minutes
  • 7 p.m. Sunset Program – “The Wild West” – Discover a story of adventure that can only be found in the West with a diverse set of characters. From the geologic story to the cultural history, the story is dynamic. Listen to how the dunes were formed and what people have had adventures in the sand. You are invited to not only listen to the story but be a part of the adventure in this sunset hike out into the dunes. Dunes Lot, 45 minutes
  • 8:30 p.m. Evening Program – “Night Skies and our National Parks” – For millennia humans have gazed upon the night sky, forging a unique connection to our cosmos. Join a ranger to become inspired by our enduring resource, the night sky! Telescope viewing will take place after the program; weather permitting. Amphitheater, 45 minutes

Friday, August 26 – Fee Free Day!

  • 1 p.m. Discovery Activity – “The Singing Sands” – The Great Sand Dunes are a symphony of geological and animal sounds! Discover how the Great Sand Dunes were formed while making the wild sounds found in the park. Fun for all ages! Visitor Center, 25 minutes
  • 2 p.m. Special Event – Come join author Michael Geary, who will provide a public presentation on his new book, Sea of Sand, followed by a book signing. His book is the definitive history of the natural, cultural and political forces that helped shape this unique landscape. Visitor Center
  • 3:30 p.m. Afternoon Program – “Better Home Sand Gardens” – Come explore the dunes on a Ranger hike and learn about the extreme plants and animals which share such a unique environment. Dunes Lot, 30 minutes
  • 7 p.m. Sunset Program – “I Won’t Axe Yew to Leave” – Come join a Ranger for a journey throughout time, from Ancient Greece to the modern-day Great Sand Dunes, as we explore amazing facts about trees! Listen to some myths about how certain trees got their names, as well as their place in the Great Sand Dunes ecosystem. You are invited to not only listen to a story, but be a part of an adventure in this sunset hike. Montville Nature Trail, 45 minutes
  • 8:30 p.m. Evening Program – “To Catch A Shooting Star” – Come learn about shooting stars and how they have captured the imagination of generations of people around the world and have shaped our earth’s history! Brief telescope viewing will take place afterwards, weather permitting. Amphitheater, 45 minutes

Saturday, August 27 – Fee Free Day!

  • 10 a.m. Special Event – Come join Colorado author Michelle Rodenburg for a signing of her book Colorado Creatures, an Alphabet book. This is a fascinating book written to make reading fun as well as educational for children. Visitor Center, 2 hours
  • 1 p.m. Discovery Activity – Find your inner park ranger on this short, interactive hike. Learn about the diverse and unique habitats of the park and preserve. Learn about some of the common plants and animals that call this amazing place home. Great for all ages! Montville Nature Trail, 30 minutes
  • 3:30 p.m. Afternoon Program – “Art for All Ages” -. Come paint the dunes with a Ranger-artist and learn about the unique environment surrounding you! Art supplies will be provided. Visitor Center, 30 minutes
  • 7 p.m. Special Event – Rapidgrass Quintet – Come join the bluegrass group, Rapidgrass Quintet, for a special centennial concert! Drinks and snacks will be available for purchase during the concert and telescope viewings will follow, weather permitting. Amphitheater, 90 minutes

Sunday, August 28 – Fee Free Day!

  • 1 p.m. Discovery Activity – Discover how the dunes were formed and other fascinating aspects of the park and preserve. Visitor Center, 25 minutes
  • 3:30 p.m. Afternoon Program – “Our Dynamic Sun” – Come join our astronomy volunteer for a program covering the amazing science of our home star – the Sun. Visitor Center, 30 minutes
  • 8:30 p.m. Evening Program – “A Ranger’s Story” Come hear about the adventures and experiences of one National Park Ranger from the Mississippi River to the Medano. Weather permitting. Flashlights and jackets suggested. Brief telescope viewing will take place afterwards, weather permitting. Amphitheater, 45 minutes
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