This page features special events at Great Sand Dunes. For the schedule of regular afternoon and evening programs, please visit our Ranger Programs page.
Roland McCook in Ute Regalia and Historic Photo of Ouray and Chipeta
Photo 1: Roland McCook in Ute regalia, courtesy Roland McCook
Photo 2: Ouray and Chipeta in Washington, DC, 1880 (National Archives)

Saturday, July 30
10:00 am

Ute Cultural Presentation
with Roland McCook
and Morgan Dawn Allen

Great Sand Dunes and the San Luis Valley are an integral part of the traditional Ute homeland. Roland McCook is a member of the Uncompahgre Band of the Ute Tribe, former chair of the Northern Ute Tribe, and a great great grandson of Chipeta, the wife of Chief Ouray.

McCook has served in a variety of capacities for his tribe, Native American Cultural Programs (NACP), the Smithsonian’s Native American Repatriation Review Committee, and History Colorado. He continues to present Ute cultural programs throughout the region, bringing this profound heritage to life. Roland's famous 19th century ancestors Ouray and Chipeta worked fervently to heal conflicts between settlers and the Ute people.

Roland will present Ute culture and history while Morgan Dawn Allen helps children make free beaded bracelets.

The Amphitheater is located one mile north of the visitor center, at the end of CO 150. Please note that Lane 6N from Mosca is closed this summer, so visitors must access the park via US 160 to CO 150.

A ranger and intern help two children do an activity on the sand at Junior Ranger Day
A ranger and an intern help two children do the Pronghorn Sprint at Junior Ranger Day.


Saturday, August 6
9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Dunes Parking Area

Junior Ranger Day

Join us for Junior Ranger Day August 4 from 9am – 1pm! Park at the Dunes Parking Area and follow signs to the registration table to get started. There will be various stations where kids can interactively learn about the dunes, artifacts, fossils, and wildlife, and earn prizes upon completion. Stop by anytime between 9am and 1pm to participate!

This special annual event is sponsored by Friends of the Dunes, a non-profit citizen’s support group for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. In cooperation with the National Park Service, the Friends provide a forum for citizen involvement in planning decisions, focus public interest on issues and need, and provide volunteer and financial aid for projects beyond the scope of the park’s budget. Learn more:

Milky Way over Dune Ripples September 2021
Milky Way over Dune Ripples

NPS/Patrick Myers

Saturday, August 27th
6:30 pm - 11:00 pm

Annual Astronomy Event

6:30 pm: Pueblo Raptor Center Presentation on Owls
8:00 pm: Ranger Program about Great Sand Dunes at Night
8:45 pm: Constellation Tour and Telescope Viewing

Photo of Dunes and inset image of Taz Tally

Photo by Taz Tally

Free Photography Workshops
Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2

Exploring Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve with Your Smartphone

with Alaska Photographer Taz Tally

Please note: All three workshops are full and have waiting lists. Call 719-378-6395 to add your name to the waiting list.

Capture high-quality, memorable images with your smartphone – no big or expensive camera gear required! Great photography is fundamentally based on good composition, the quality of the light, and patience. While more gear can help us execute and expand our creative capabilities, no amount of equipment can compose an image, choose the best lighting or know when to release the shutter. During this course you will shoot alongside Taz and use compositional tools such as simplicity, asymmetry, eye lines and point of view, and you’ll shoot during the prime lighting periods of late afternoon and early mornings. You’ll explore and capture eye-catching still images and videos of numerous fascinating features that Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve offers, using only your Smartphone. And, we will take advantage of October’s low angle sunlight, warm natural lighting, fall colors at lower elevations and early winter snows on the surrounding high peaks and ridgelines. Taz will also show you some simple, easy-to-access, Smartphone editing tools that will help you improve your images. Taz is also offering a special night-time photography session for those interested in low-light outdoor photography.

Participants will learn to:

  • Create eye-catching compositions
  • Capture portraits of nature
  • Shoot Macros of textures and fabrics
  • Photograph stunning panoramas
  • Shoot nature videos
  • Utilize slow motion photography
  • Create audio/video portraits and journals
  • Apply simple editing techniques
  • Capture images at night

Daytime and Evening Classes

Taz will be offering two free daytime sessions and one free nighttime class:

  • Daytime Session 1: Saturday afternoon October 1, 4pm
  • Nighttime Session: Saturday evening October 1, 8pm*
  • Daytime Session 2: Sunday morning October 2, 6:00am

*Tripod recommended for nighttime session

All sessions are free, but space is limited and signup is required. Please call the visitor center at 719-378-6395. If you get voicemail, leave the name(s) and number(s) of the persons who wish to sign up, and which session(s) you are requesting. Please state your phone number twice, as phone connections in rural areas sometimes cut out parts of a recording. A staff member will return your call and let you know if there is still space for you. You will be instructed on where to meet when you make the reservation. These workshops are free, but regular park entrance fees are in effect. If the entrance station is not staffed when you arrive, you may pay the entrance fee online. The park is open 24/7.

This special event is made possible by
Western National Parks Association.


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Last updated: September 21, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Visitor Center
11999 State Highway 150

Mosca , CO 81146


719 378-6395
Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center main number

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