Great Sand Dunes National Park Begins Phase 1 Reopening

Great Sand Dunes National Park Begins Phase 1 Reopening

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will increase recreational access through a phased approach following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities. A phased approach will allow the park to adhere to all guidance, reduce risks to visitors and staff, and promote safe recreational opportunities. Great Sand Dunes continues to follow the State of Colorado “Safer at Home” guidance and to work with county and local officials as these changes are implemented. Great Sand Dunes is in Alamosa and Saguache counties.

This summer’s operation will look different. The park has implemented many strategies to ensure that visitors can still enjoy the park while also minimizing potential risks.

Beginning June 3, Great Sand Dunes will implement Phase 1 and reopen access to:

-Main park road

-Dunes parking area and dunefield

-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

With public health in mind, the following facilities or areas remain closed until further notice:

-Visitor Center

-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

While the visitor center remains closed, the park will provide limited visitor services outside at the visitor center, including park information.

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; however, Phase 2 is contingent upon successful implementation of Phase 1, sufficient staff capacity and supplies, and current local and state guidance.

“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.”

Alamosa County Public Health Director Della Cox-Vieira stated, “I have confidence in the plan for reopening the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. 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.”

Upon re-opening, business practices will be put into place to ensure the safety of visitors and staff when interacting at the entrance station, campground, visitor center and public restroom facilities. When recreating, we encourage the public to follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, practice proper hand washing, avoid high-risk outdoor activities, and wear cloth face masks in crowded areas, especially around the visitor center and restroom facilities.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. 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.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. We will continue to monitor all park functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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