SAND DUNES — Great Sand Dunes is a park for all seasons, but fall is one colorful season not to be missed.
With temperatures ranging from a high of 50 – 70 degrees F to a low of 20 to 40 degrees F, the fall season is perfect for wildlife viewing, driving along the (4WD) Medano Pass Primitive Road to see leaves changing, or experiencing the dark skies.
As the fall season descends upon Great Sand Dunes, the park has planned a series of free events for visitors to experience this unique national park.
Events include a guided birding hike along the scenic Mosca Pass Trail, an evening under the stars at the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, as well as a writing workshop and an artist workshop in October. All events are free of charge, but entrance fees into the park still apply.
• The Baca National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) will host Great Sand Dunes Astronomy Park Ranger Kyle Ackerman for an evening under the stars on Thursday, Sept. 13 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Baca NWR visitor center (located on County Road T towards the Town of Crestone). The program will begin with a 45-minute presentation on the disappearing darkness, followed by telescope viewing. The Baca NWR borders the park to the north and shares in the park’s commitment to maintain dark night skies for the lifecycle needs for many of the wild creatures that rely on the Refuge.
• Celebrate the Year of the Bird with a birding hike along Mosca Pass Trail on Saturday, Sept. 15, from 4-5 p.m. Join Joe LaFleur, author and bird enthusiast, for a guided bird walk that features hands-on identification of migrant and resident birds in habitats including forest, creek and meadow.
Beginners are welcome, ages 10 and up; bring binoculars and good walking shoes. This free workshop is limited to 10 participants, reserve your spot by calling 719-378-6395.
• The Baca NWR will welcome Ranger Amy Kaplan for an art and writing workshop exploring “place” at the Baca NWR Visitor Center on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Participants will explore how personal and environmental change impacts our connections to the places we live and the places we love and the environmental grief we may, knowingly or unknowingly, experience as a result.
Participants are asked to bring a journal and writing tools but additional art materials will be supplied. Open to ages 12 and up. This free workshop is limited to 10 participants, reserve your spot by calling 719-378-6395.
• Colorado abstract painter Paula Jo Millerwill be hosting a workshop at Great Sand Dunes visitor center on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 2-4:30 p.m. Materials will be provided at no charge but visitors can bring their own canvas and paints.
Great Sand Dunes, with their sweeping forms and colors, are abstract art in themselves, so an abstract approach is a natural way to capture the subtle colors and shapes of the dunes and their surroundings. Class is limited to eight participants, reserve your spot by calling 719-378-6343.
Ongoing through October
Free afternoon, sunset and evening ranger programs will be offered in September and October at various park locations. Visit the park visitor center (open daily), check the park website at www.nps.gov/grsa, or call the visitor center at 719-378-6395 for a full schedule of ranger programs and special events.