Great Sand Dunes National Park
As its name indicates, Great Sand Dunes National Park (and the adjacent preserve of the same name) preserves the tallest sand dunes in North America. They reach a height of 750 feet and encompass an area of 30 square miles. The park and the preserve, which are located in central-southern Colorado, cover an area of 149,000 square miles and feature a diverse range of ecosystems: wetlands, grasslands, conifer and aspen forests, and tundra. The park was originally established as a national monument in 1932 but eventually became a national park and preserve in 2004. The visitor center, which is the location on the accompanying map, features exhibits and shows a film about the park. There are many activities visitors can do at the park including hiking, backpacking, camping, biking, sandboarding and sand sledding. There are also demonstrations, workshops, lectures, and programming for children such as the junior ranger program.
Backstory and Context
In the following decades, settlers began to arrive, establishing homesteads. Conflict arose between them and the Indian tribes as well as between themselves. The U.S. Army established Fort Garland in 1852 (it was originally called Fort Massachusetts) to keep the peace. Buffalo soldiers (African American soldiers) were among the troops stationed at the fort. One of the homesteads, the Trujillo Homestead, is a national historic landmark and is located within the park. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail, which preserves the trail from Santa Fe to Los Angeles, passes through the park.
"Visitor Guide." National Park Service - Great Sand Dunes National Park. Accessed March 23, 2018. https://www.nps.gov/grsa/planyourvisit/upload/visitor-guide-great-sand-dunes2018-web.pdf.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons