The National Park Service and National Park Foundation are once again joining forces to celebrate and promote National Parks Week, an annual opportunity to invite the American people to get to know the National Parks System a little better.  National Park Week runs April 20-28 and includes the theme, “Did You Know?”, to capture the imagination of visitors or potential visitors and to entice everyone to learn a little more about what we do in parks and communities.

Entrance fees will be waived the five weekdays of National Park Week, Monday, April 22 through Friday, April 26 allowing visitors to explore National Park Service units. “Great Sand Dunes is an amazing destination all year-round,” says Superintendent Lisa Carrico, “So we hope that fee free days will inspire folks to come out and explore.”

During National Parks Week, Great Sand Dunes welcomes visitors to explore the park through a variety of recreational activities: sledding, hiking, sand boarding, picnicking, camping, flying kites, and photography. Visitors should plan a visit to the Visitor Center during the hours of 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to check out the temporary and permanent exhibits. Staff at the Visitor Center have upgraded the temporary exhibits to include an Archeology interactive exhibit for kids and the young at heart to learn more about what objects have been found at Great Sand Dunes. Visitors will have the opportunity to use archeology tools such as brushes to search for secrets in the sand.

Did you know that Great Sand Dunes National Park has some of the darkest skies in the National Park System? The park is utilizing Visitor Center space to interpret the significance of its Dark Skies and encourage visitors to experience the night at Great Sand Dunes. Star charts are located in the Visitor Center in hopes of inspiring visitors to look for celestial objects after dark in the park.

Be sure to check the park’s website www.nps.gov/grsa for additional information on camping, weather, and other activities in the national park or call the Visitor Center between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 719-378-6399.

Also keep in mind that over 200 national park sites in the system never charge an entrance fee.  If you’re planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, you might consider the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands. This America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is offered free to all active duty military members and their dependents. Information on these and other pass options is available at www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.