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Here's when the Great Sand Dunes National Park will start reopening

Park staff are reminding visitors that this summer's operation will look quite a bit different from previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DUNCAN, Colorado — Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve has announced plans for a phased reopening beginning June 3. 

The park, located about four hours from Denver in south-central Colorado, is one of the state's four national parks that closed last month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During that time, the park has implemented strategies to ensure that visitors can still enjoy the park while also minimizing potential risks. It's also worth noting that under Gov. Jared Polis’ “safer at home” order, driving more than 10 miles for recreational purposes is still not allowed. That order is currently set to expire on May 27. 

“We are excited to welcome visitors back to the park and support our local communities,” said Park Superintendent Pamela Rice. “As the public returns to the park, we ask that they practice social distancing and follow national and state guidance to keep park staff, local residents and the general public safe.”

>>> Watch the video above to see a 2016 9NEWS special about the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

The National Park Service (NPS) said the phased approach will allow the park to adhere to all guidance, reduce risks to visitors and staff, and promote safe recreational opportunities. 

Starting June 3, Great Sand Dunes will implement Phase 1 and reopen access to: 

  • Main park road 
  • Dunes parking area and dune field 
  • Medano Pass Primitive Road (if road conditions allow), including established campsites on a first-come, first-served basis 
  • All trails: Mosca Pass, Montville Nature, Sand Sheet Loop, Wellington Ditch, Dunes Overlook, Sand Ramp, Medano Lake, and Music Pass 
  • All picnic areas: Mosca Creek, Sand Pit, and Castle Creek 
  • Entrance Station, including the collection of fees if authorized

These park facilities or areas remain closed until further notice: 

  • Visitor Center 
  • South Ramada group picnic site in the Mosca Creek Picnic Area
  • Pinon Flats Campground 
  • Overnight backcountry access in the National Park
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
A View of the The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado, United States

While the visitor center remains closed, park rangers will provide information to guests outside at the visitor center. 

Great Sand Dunes plans to reopen the Pinon Flats Campground and begin issuing backcountry permits for both the Park and Preserve in mid-June as part of Phase 2 of the reopening plan. Park staff said that Phase 2 is contingent on a successful implementation of Phase 1. 

The NPS encourages the public to follow local area health orders while recreating by practicing Leave No Trace principles, avoiding crowding, practicing proper hand washing, avoiding high-risk outdoor activities, and wear cloth face coverings in crowded areas, especially around the visitor center and restroom facilities. 

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) plans to increase recreational access and services in a phased reopening beginning May 27, including shuttle bus operations within the Bear Lake Road corridor. 

On May 15, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park reopened portions of the park for day use, including the North Rim and South Rim drives, overlooks and hiking trails. 

Mesa Verde National Park has not yet released details on its plan for reopening. 

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