SOUTHERN COLORADO – If you’re anxious to check out the tallest sand dunes in North America with warmer weather taking hold of Colorado, the wait is almost over! The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve are reopening on June 3rd. However this summer will look a bit different at the park.
It will be opening in phases following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with state and local health authorities. A spokesperson with the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve says they’re following the ‘Safer-at-Home’ order to reduce risks to visitors and staff while promoting safe recreational opportunities.
The first phase, on June 3rd, will open access to the main park road, Medano Pass Primitive Road, all trails and picnic areas and the entrance station.
“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.”
With public health in mind, some park facilities will remain closed on June 3rd. The Visitor Center, South Ramada group picnic site, Pinon Flats Campground and overnight backcountry access in the National Park are closed until further notice.
Great Sand Dunes plans to reopen the Pinon Flats Campground and begin issuing backcountry permits for both the Park and Preserve in mid-June as part of phase 2. This date could change depending on how successful the first reopening phase is, local and state guidance, as well as sufficient staff capacity and supplies.
“I have confidence in the plan for reopening the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve,” Alamosa County Public Health Director Della Cox-Vieira said. “The Park has done a great job balancing the public health needs of their visitors and staff as they increase public access to the national treasure in our backyard. I remind all visitors to practice social distancing, frequent hand washing, and face-covering in the common areas of the Park.”
Park officials say business practices will be in place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff when interacting at the entrance station, campground, visitor center, and public restroom facilities. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve encourages everyone to follow local health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and wear a face mask.
“The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continue to be paramount,” Cox-Vieira said. “At Great Sand Dunes, our operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public facilities and staff workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.”