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Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Operating Hours & Seasons

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Between the Visitor Center and the Dunes

Between the Visitor Center and the Dunes (Photo credit: Cowtools)

Great Sand Dunes National Park & PreserveĀ is always open. It never closes. It’s open 24 hours per day for seven days of the week, so it really doesn’t matter when you call by, it won’t be closed.

The opening hours of the parks visitor center does vary depending upon the season.

  • Winter opening hours – 9am until 4.30pm
  • Spring and fall opening hours – 9am until 5pm
  • Summer opening hours – 8.30am until 6pm.

Note – the visitor center at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is open every day with the exception of winter federal holidays.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in the Spring

The springtime is a great time to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, just so long as you are well prepared. Spring weather can mean just about anything from warm sunshine and mild temperatures to blizzards and cold winds, and that can all hit you in just one day. You need to have the right clothing for a lovely warm day as well as being prepared for the wet and the cold, even snow. Generally speaking the Medano Creek is just a trickle early on in April, becoming a flowing stream just waiting to be enjoyed by the middle or end of May. If you’re visiting the park at this time you should definitely bring your swimsuit and a towel, just in case you can’t resist the temptation. Remember also that it gets pretty windy at Great Sand Dunes National Park in the springtime, particularly during the afternoons, so if you fancy a hike on the sand dunes you might have a more pleasurable experience in the mornings.

Sounds windy doesn’t it?

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in the Summer

Most of the visitors to the park arrive during the summer months. The temperature reaches highs in the 80’s F, and the night lows plummet to around 40’s F. Don’t think that you’re guaranteed wall to wall sunshine though, there are often heavy afternoon thunderstorms with plenty of lightning during July and August. If you want to hike the dunes then it’s a good idea to get cracking early in the mornings or early evenings. That way you can avoid the intense heat of the mid-day sand surface (don’t forget that you’ll need closed shoes, the sand gets very “hot hot hot”), plus the afternoon thunderstorms. By the middle of the summer Medano Creek is often reduced to a mere trickle as it disappears back from where it came (the mountains).

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in the Fall

Similarly to spring visit, the park can throw all kinds of weather at you in the fall, from warm sunshine and pleasantly mild temperatures to milder temperatures and blizzards. You really do have to be prepared for all eventualities – as someone smarter than me once said – “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothing”. The best of the fall colors can usually be enjoyed late in September or early in October.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in the Winter

If you’re looking for a little peace and quiet in the winter time then head to Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve . . . there you can enjoy solitude, a natural quietness and some of the most beautiful clear night skies. During the daytime you will probably be able to enjoy a little sunshine even though it might feel chilly, the sand does get to feel warm under the intense heat of the alpine sun, but temperatures at night time can plunge to sub zero and winter conditions can arrive incredibly fast. Be prepared for snow, blizzards . . . just general winter conditions. Winter at the park is especially popular with sledders, skiers and snowboards . . . the dunes are just fantastic fun!

That snow video was taken in April!

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