Archive for June, 2009

Third Sand Dunes Panel

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

In the third panel of this project are found the highest dunes in the dune field, towering against the blue and white of the high valley sky.

Here are often found the “Chinese wall” effects along the tops of the dunes, formed when moisture and wind conditions are right for the phenomenon.

The Medano flows along the outer edge of the dune field, to later seep and disappear into the sands farther west.

A large bull elk grazes in the tall grass .

Among the animals found here are Ord’s kangaroo rat and the short-horned lizard, whose spiny camoflage fades perfectly into the sandy environment.dunes-31

First Sand Dunes Panel

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

This is the first of the five panels to be installed in the visitors center of the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve near Alamosa CO.


This panel depicts the wetland areas which edge the western side of the dune field. This area has an abundance of wildlife and shown are sandhill cranes in flight and the pronghorn antelope.

The corner insets feature the sunflower on the left, whose blossoms blanket the open field surrounding the dunes with a carpet of brilliant yellow for most of the summer season. Also found only in this vicinity is the Great Sand Dunes tiger beetle, with its iridescent carapace.

In the lower right corner is a pair of sandhill cranes, whose migratory path leads them to graze in fields of the San Luis Valley in the in the early spring and again in the fall. These magnificent birds can reach 46″ in height and can have a wingspan of over 6 feet. Their calls can frequently be heard before they become visible when the flocks pass overhead.

Second Dunes Panel

Monday, June 8th, 2009

This is the second panel of the Great Sand Dunes project.

Depicted is lightning striking the dunes, which results in ‘fulgarite’ formations made when the electricity from the lightning melts the silica in the sand, and the big dipper, which represents the “night Sky” program in the NPS.

Here also are mule deer, very numerous in the area. The corner inserts are yellow Elephant ear cactus on the left and Indian points representative of those found at various sites around the San Luis valley.dunes-2