Free Nature Haiku Workshops at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Watercolor artist and poet Nancy Arbuthnot will lead ‘Nature Haiku’ workshops on October 7, 10-12 am and October 8, 11-1 pm. These are designed for all ages, though parents should accompany children under 14. Materials are provided at no cost. There is a limit of 12 people for each workshop; sign up in advance by emailing e-mail us . Please give participant names, ages, and a phone number to call if there are any changes. Call 719-378-6343 with any questions about the workshops.

Participants will first go on a short hike with brief stops to sketch and jot down observations of 3-5 different animal and plant species. The workshop itself will be devoted to creating a handmade journal of animal and plant ‘portraits’ from the sketches and poems from the written observations. We will use ink pens and origami papers for the final sketches, and look at examples of classic Japanese haiku to polish notes into short poems or prose pieces. Participants will also have the opportunity to decorate the journal cover and share their work.

View Nancy’s work and biography at . This program is sponsored by Western National Parks Association.Watercolor by Nancy Arbuthnot

To honor the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and to celebrate being the Gateway Community, Visit Alamosa will launch the third annual, month-long ‘We Love Our National Park Celebration’ on April 1, 2023. Each year in April since 1991, National Parks across the country celebrate National Park Week with special programs, events, and fee-free days. This year, National Park Week is April 22-30, which makes April the perfect time to celebrate and honor the national park’s dedication to conserving world-class resources while also showing appreciation to the community that promotes and supports their national park.

Throughout the month starting on April 7, free ranger programs or activity tables will be offered at the park visitor center on most weekends. Daily programs or activity tables at the park visitor center are planned during National Park Week, April 22-30. To kick off National Park Week, entrance fees will be waived on Saturday, April 22 and the park will host a Locals Night Under the Stars event at the park’s outdoor amphitheater from 8-10:30pm. This event will feature guest speaker, Michael Rymer from the International Dark Sky Association, followed by ranger-guided stargazing, and telescope viewing and learning about the impacts of light pollution.

Check back regularly for more  events, and learn more at

Birders and nature enthusiasts in the San Luis Valley will join birders across the western hemisphere to participate in Audubon’s longest-running wintertime tradition, the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC), held at Great Sand Dunes National Park on Friday, December 23 at 8:00 a.m. Birders of all skill levels are invited and encouraged to participate.

To participate in the bird count at Great Sand Dunes, interested individuals must register with the park and be signed up as park volunteers. Contact the visitor center at 719-378-6395 between 9a.m. and 4:30p.m. to register. Participants who are registered as park volunteers will receive an entrance fee waiver for the day of the bird count. Volunteers must arrive at the park by 7:45a.m. on December 23rd to complete volunteer paperwork, review safety guidelines and receive map of assigned area and instructions for returning count results. Those who are registered will receive specific instructions on which building in the park to meet at on December 23rd. For more information on the bird count, please direct inquiries, and questions to Dewane Mosher, [email protected].

Milky Way over Medano Creek (NPS)

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is hosting a dark sky celebration on Saturday, August 27th from 6:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at the outdoor amphitheater. Far from the light pollution of urban areas, Great Sand Dunes protects some of Colorado’s darkest night skies. This free event will celebrate and educate visitors about the benefits to dark sky preservation.

The event begins with a 30-minute “Birds of Prey” presentation at 6:30pm by the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center of Pueblo, Colorado. Shortly following the presentation, visitors will have the chance to meet owls rehabilitated at the Discovery and Nature Center.

A kids’ activity and information table will be set up at 7:30pm for visitors of all ages to learn about reducing light pollution and appreciating the dark skies. Staffed tables will provide astronomy information, handouts, and the Junior Ranger Night Explorer activity book. Upon completion of this activity book, kids can earn a special night sky patch. A ranger-led program will begin at 8:30pm followed by multiple telescope viewings of planets and deep sky objects. The event concludes at 11pm but stargazers are encouraged to continue enjoying the dark skies after the event.