Medano Creek flowing early at Great Sand Dunes National Park

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Medano Creek

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Data pix.

ALAMOSA — Healthy snowpack levels in Southern Colorado are having a positive impact on some of the state’s most iconic locations, including the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.

This season has been the second highest snowpack on record for the park. Because of it, the park’s famous Medano Creek is flowing earlier and stronger.

"This year’s snowpack was 170% of average. Last year’s was 22% of average. So there’s a really drastic swing,” explained park geologist Andrew Valdez.

For the last three years the park has experienced a downward trend, but that cycle is starting to change and it’s trending upward.

"We’re off to a good start this year!” said Valdez. “We’re looking forward to a lot of stream flow this summer”.

Last year was the lowest snowpack on record at the park.

Medano Creek flows around the perimeter of the dune field. It’s important because it modifies how the dunes look.

"The Great Sand Dunes is famous for having really big dunes. And the reason why we have these big dunes popping up along the perimeter is because of the action of the creek,” said Valdez.

Generally, the creek starts to flow in May-June, but because of the healthy snow levels it was extended by about a month on either side of that, Valdez explained.

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