Great Sand Dunes National Park

Photography by Rick DiGiammarino
Colorado
National Park Service

Rick DiGiammarino Rick DiGiammarino Rick DiGiammarino Rick DiGiammarino

Interesting facts about Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Some of the park’s dunes are as tall as 750 feet, the tallest in North America.

The dunes were caused by dried lake and stream beds releasing particles of sand, which the wind then carries to the foothills of the Sangre de Cristos Mountains.

The park has one of the most fragile and complex dune systems in the world.

Winds of up to 40 mph continually reshape the dunes.

There are no snakes or scorpions in the dunes.

The park hosts a great diversity of plants and animals, including insect species found nowhere else on earth. The system, which spans high desert to alpine life zones, supports rare biological communities that are mostly intact and functional.

The park contains some of the oldest (9,000+ years before present) known archeological sites in America. The dunes have been identified as having special importance by people of various cultures, and the area is recognized for the culturally diverse nature of human use.

Ute, Apache, and other tribes peeled bark from pine trees for food and medicine. More than 100 of these culturally peeled trees are still living in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

Alpine lakes such as Upper Sand Creek Lake are part of the mountain watershed of Great Sand Dunes, and provide a dramatic contrast to the stark dunefield.

Great Sand Dunes is home to at least six endemic insect species — found nowhere else on earth. The Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle is the best known of these endemics.