For more information about National Park Service air resources, please visit

Scenic views and native vegetation images from parks within Rocky Mountain Network.

Air Quality at Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

What’s in the Air?

Map of Great Sand Dunes NP&P in Colorado
Great Sand Dunes NP & Pres, Colorado

Most people who visit national parks expect clean air and clear views. However, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (NP & Pres), Colorado, home to the tallest dunes in North America, is downwind of many pollution sources. Pollutants emitted from power plants, agricultural areas, and motor vehicles can harm the park’s natural and scenic resources such as surface waters, vegetation, and visibility.

How is air pollution affecting Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve?

  • Nitrogen in wet deposition presents a risk to high elevation lakes and sensitive vegetation in the park. more »
  • Toxic airborne contaminants including mercury and pesticides deposit in park ecosystems, presenting a potential wildlife and human health concern. more »
  • Ground-level ozone concentrations are relatively low, but plant species known to be very sensitive to ozone are found in the park. more »
  • Fine particles of air pollution sometimes cause haze in the park, affecting how well and how far visitors can see vistas and landmarks. more »

What is the National Park Service doing about air pollution at the park?

  • Monitoring fine particles and haze to assess status and trends. more »
  • Evaluating the impacts of air pollution on park ecosystems. more »
  • Working with federal, state, and local agencies, industry, and public interest groups to develop strategies to reduce air pollution and protect and restore park resources. The NPS also reviews plans for development that may increase air pollution in national parks. more »
  • Reducing emission contributions through an expanded recycling program, the use of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles, and the replacement of energy inefficient measures with conserving and more fuel efficient devices in park facilities. more »

Featured Content

Impacts icon

Pollutants including nitrogen, sulfur, mercury, ozone, and fine particles affect resources such as surface waters, soils, and scenic vistas. Find out how on our Great Sand Dunes NP & Pres Air Pollution Impacts web page.

Studies and Monitoring icon

Studies and monitoring help the NPS understand the environmental impacts of air pollution. Access air quality data and see what is happening with Studies and Monitoring at Great Sand Dunes NP & Pres.

Related Links

Last Updated: December 30, 2016