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Great Sand Dunes National Park Seeks Input

Great Sand Dunes National Park Calls for Public Input on Updates to Infrastructure

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO – Great Sand Dunes National Park, known for its majestic dunes and diverse ecosystems, has seen a significant uptick in visitor numbers, leading to a strain on its existing infrastructure. To address these challenges and enhance the visitor experience, the park is inviting public feedback on proposed improvements.

The park has historically welcomed between 250,000 to 300,000 visitors annually. However, this number has surged to nearly 600,000 over the past six years, intensifying pressure on the park’s natural and cultural treasures, as well as its operational capacity. Park officials highlight the need for urgent measures to mitigate safety risks, alleviate parking shortages, and reduce congestion that currently detract from the visitor experience.

In response to these concerns, park authorities have been deliberating on various concepts aimed at revamping the park’s infrastructure. Key proposals include expanding existing parking lots, creating new trails, and establishing formal vehicle pull-offs to improve accessibility and safety. Despite the challenges, the park has ruled out transit solutions, such as buses or vans, due to the current infrastructure limitations.

The proposed enhancements target six key areas within the park, including the entrance sign, the entrance station, Medano Creek Road, and the Dunes parking lot. An ambitious plan to introduce a multimodal trail spanning over 5 miles along the wilderness boundary is also in the works. This trail is intended to connect the park’s entrance to the visitor center and the dunes, offering a safer and more enjoyable route for visitors. Additionally, two new nature trails are planned, providing scenic detours and photo opportunities along the way.

Great Sand Dunes National Park’s officials are earnestly seeking input from the public to refine these concepts further. Community engagement is crucial to ensure the proposed improvements meet the needs of all park visitors while preserving the park’s unique environment. Feedback can be submitted through the National Park Service’s planning website until March 29, marking a vital step in the park’s journey towards accommodating its growing popularity without compromising its integrity.

As the civic engagement phase continues, park authorities are committed to integrating public insights into their planning process. This collaborative approach aims to forge a sustainable future for Great Sand Dunes National Park, ensuring it remains a cherished destination for generations to come.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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