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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Shifting dunes reach sky-ward against the rugged peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has the tallest sand dunes in North America. Here, you can make your own adventure and strike out on a new path. There are no designated trails on the dunes, and the park encompasses forests, cottonwood groves and mountains. Local outfitters can supply you with sand sled and sandboard rentals and the ranger station holds various events throughout the year. Hike Mosca Pass for the chance to see local wildlife or, if you want a challenge, climb the tallest dune in North America, Star Dune. And don’t forget your camera; the dunes are a dramatic backdrop for photo ops.

 

Undiscovered Adventures

Alamosa’s unique landscape has inspired playful attractions that are fun for all ages. Travel through scenic mountain valley passes and historic western towns on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad excursion train ride. The train recalls the golden age of railroads and shows off a side of Colorado that many do not experience. For a surprising experience, check out Colorado Gators Reptile Park. It might seem a little out of place, but it’s an important animal refuge for reptiles. Learn about alligators, snakes, tortoises and lizards and find out how the refuge started. If you truly want to seek out the undiscovered, consider climbing the UFO Watchtower. Whether or not you spot a spaceship, the observation platform provides a 360-degree view of the San Luis Valley.

 

Landscapes like Nowhere Else

Nature-lovers can’t pass up the chance to hike, bike, fish, camp and explore in this ecologically unique landscape. Climb into the alcove that houses Zapata Falls and feel the temperature around you drop. Visit in the winter to see the falls completely frozen into solid ice. For a meditative experience, walk the Stations of the Cross, an outdoor art instillation of bronze sculptures by artist Huberto Maestas. Take a break from the mountains in the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, a nutrient-rich wetland that draws tens of thousands of migratory birds throughout the year. Topping off the wilderness adventures is the sprawling Rio Grande National Forest. It’s comprised of nearly 2 million acres with snowy mountain peaks, deserts, rivers and sub-alpine lakes. Visit in the fall for smaller crowds and colorful fall foliage.

Fun Fact

A scenic vista of the dunes and mountains in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is home to the tallest sand dunes in North America.

Views of the San Luis Valley in Colorado
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The San Luis Valley is the largest alpine valley in the world and the headwaters of the mighty Rio Grande River.

Training at high elevation in the snow in Alamosa, Colorado
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Alamosa’s Adams State University hosts the High Altitude Training Center, where long distance runners can heighten performance with training programs at elevation.

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