Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Facts

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Facts
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is an 84,997 acre park located in Colorado in the United States. The park, which is notable for containing the tallest sand dunes in North America, was originally established as Great Sand Dunes National Monument in 1932. In 2004 it was re-designated as Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve by an act of Congress. The park encompasses 44,246 acres and the preserve encompasses 41,686 acres. The sand dunes found in the park are believed to have started to form about 440,000 years ago from sand and soil deposits coming from the Rio Grande. The dunes are a popular feature of the park that visitors often try to sled down.
Interesting Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Facts:
In the 1920s it was rumored that gold had been found in the park's Medano Creek. It proved to be little and very time consuming so gold prospecting was abandoned quickly.
The dune field in Great Sand Dunes National Park is 30 square miles in size and has sand dunes as high as 750 feet.
Visitors often sled down the sand dunes at the park. Some also sandboard (snowboarding on the sand), and surf but the equipment used is different from equipment used on snow.
Fat biking is a popular sport. Fat bikes have fatter tires that make it easier to bike on sand.
Horseback riding and hiking are popular activities in the park.
Zapata Falls is a waterfall that is somewhat hidden in the park. Those who wish to visit must park and walk a half mile to reach the waterfall.
Wildlife found within Great Sand Dunes National Park includes pronghorns, bison, badgers, beavers, cougars, black bears, pikas, bighorn sheep, mountain lions, wolverines, rocky mountain elk, kangaroo rats, and marmots.
Reptiles and amphibians that can be found in Great Sand Dunes National Park include woodhouse toads, tiger salamanders, painted turtles, skinks, plateau lizards, short horned lizards, garter snakes, smooth green snakes and bullsnakes.
Trees found growing in the park vary widely because of the 6000 feet of vertical change which provides for many plant zones. Plants and trees found in the park include saltgrass, prickly pear, pinyon pine, juniper, Douglas fir, white fir, aspen, ponderosa pine, and spruce, among many others.
Medano Creek is a creek that flows along the dunefield. Its peak flow is in early summer, and this is the most popular time to see it. As the season progresses the flow decreases and loses its attraction. Medano Creek is unique because there is no permanent creek bed. The water flows over the sand and sometimes even has waves, or surges, that can be 18 inches high at times.
After a lightning storm it is sometimes possible to find glass sculptures created when lightning hits the sand and the extreme temperature fuses the sand into glass.
More than 1000 species of insects and spiders are known to exist in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seven are only found in the park and nowhere else on the planet.
When small sand avalanches move down the sand dunes they can create noises that sound like singing.

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