Colorado Sand Dunes ATV Riding
Quicklinks for detailed answers to common questions on:
Answers to other common questions:
1. What is nationally significant about Great Sand Dunes?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve:
- contains the tallest dunes in North America and one of the most fragile and complex dune systems in the world
- protects a globally significant, water- and wind-driven system, which includes creeks that demonstrate surge flow, a rare hydrologic phenomenon
- provides tremendous scenic settings that, for many, provoke strong emotional responses. These settings (including massive dunes surrounded by alpine peaks, a desert valley, creeks flowing on the surface of the sand, pristine mountains, and rural range land) offer spacious relief from urban America, exceptional solitude and quiet, and a remarkably unspoiled day and night sky
- hosts a great diversity of plants and animals, including insect species found nowhere else on earth. The system, which spans high desert to alpine life zones, supports rare biological communities that are mostly intact and functional
- contains some of the oldest (9, 000+ years before present) known archeological sites in America. The dunes have been identified as having special importance by people of various cultures, and the area is recognized for the culturally diverse nature of human use
- provides special opportunities for recreation, exploration, and education in the highly resilient dune mass and adjoining creek environments.
2. What time does the park close?
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Visitor Center is open 7 days a week except for federal holidays in winter. Hours at the Visitor Center vary seasonally, but are generally 9-4:30 daily in winter, and 8:30-6 daily during the three summer months. Call the Visitor Center at 719-378-6395 for specific hours when you plan to visit.
3. Can we ride motorbikes or ATVs on the dunes?
Mechanized or motorized vehicles are not permitted on the dunefield, and ATVs are not permitted in the park and preserve. The dunefield and most of the adjacent Sangre de Cristo Mountains are federally designated wilderness: the dunes were made a wilderness by Congress in 1976, and the Sangre de Cristos in 1993. At Great Sand Dunes, you can hike, sandboard, sled, splash in Medano Creek, or wander anywhere in the wilderness of dunes and mountains. It is a unique place to discover the intricacies of the natural world, as well as natural quiet and dark night skies where you can see countless stars with very little light pollution. There are six species of insects that are found at Great Sand Dunes and nowhere else on earth, including the beautiful Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle. It is also a safe place for children and families to play and explore without the danger of vehicles.
You may take a street-licensed, high-clearance 4WD vehicle on the Medano Pass Primitive Road, which goes around the eastern edge of the dunes then over a 10, 000' mountain pass. The road is soft and sandy in the dunes area, then forested and rocky with stream crossings in the mountain portion.
4. What can we do in the park and preserve?
See our Things to Do page for many suggestions with links to details, including: hiking, backpacking, sand sledding/sandboarding, horseback riding, mountain climbing, splashing in Medano Creek, free ranger programs, driving Medano Pass with a high clearance 4WD. For information on wheelchair-accessible activities, visit Accessibility at Great Sand Dunes .
5. Are pets allowed?
Pets may go out with you in the main day use areas of the national park, and in the national preserve, as long as they are kept on leashes at all times to protect wildlife and respect other visitors. Pets are no longer permitted in the national park backcountry; for details visit our