We Love Our National Park: The Evolution

Each year since 2021, Visit Alamosa brings to life the We Love Our National Park Campaign. A program initially developed to assist in COVID recovery for Alamosa, has turned into an annual celebration of the beautiful National Park that is right in our backyard and the incredible community that you find when you come to visit! Read more about this program and the people who developed it below! 



2021, Where It All Began

The pandemic was just coming to an end and daily routines were beginning to return to normal but recovery was slow. Visitors all over the world were wary of traveling and small businesses, while finally open, were suffering. Visit Alamosa saw the need to excite visitors about traveling again. More than that, they saw an opportunity to encourage traveler spending. 

With this came to life the We Love Our National Park Campaign. The goals of the campaign were simple: show appreciation to the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, and increase spending in local businesses. April was chosen to coincide with National Parks Week and Visit Alamosa expanded the nationally celebrated week into a local, month-long celebration. 

To mark the celebration Visit Alamosa led the way in ‘painting the town orange’- Banners were hung, flags were displayed, stickers were shared and Visit Alamosa provided posters that could be customized to reflect the communities’ love of the Sand Dunes. The local business community and our lodging properties were invited to participate. 

Visit Alamosa implemented a Voucher Program to help infuse the local economy with gift vouchers for travelers to spend in local businesses. Businesses were invited to opt into the voucher program by showing their love for the Great Sand Dunes by creating Sand Dunes-themed specials, displays, and art. Visitors staying in local lodging properties were given vouchers upon arrival and encouraged to spend them at any of the participating locations and view all of the displays throughout Alamosa. Visit Alamosa reimbursed vouchers spent throughout April. 

To further affirm this new month-long effort. Alamosa City Council adopted a proclamation declaring April to be Great Sand Dunes National Park Appreciation Month. Mayor Coleman signed the proclamation leading into April and read it at special events throughout the month, inviting community and visitors alike to ‘celebrate, experience, and enjoy our National Park’ 

The program was well received with Great Sand Dunes National Park officials and Park Rangers making guest appearances, and hosting special events like guided BARK walks in Alamosa throughout the month. Alamosa County, the City of Alamosa, and San Luis Valley Federal Bank each contributed $500 that first year to increase the amount of vouchers available to be spent in local businesses.  In total, 48 businesses, and 13 lodging properties participated in the program and the traveler spending impact of the program was $61,155.33 


2022, Keeping it Alive 

The year after COVID finally felt normal. Businesses were opened to full capacity, travelers were back on the road and in the air, and the community came back to life. When it came to the question of if there would be a second year of this program, there was no doubt in the team's mind that it was going to make a comeback, but this time, bigger! 

Along with the Voucher program carrying forward, Visit Alamosa hosted a kickoff celebration at the Colorado Welcome Center, followed by an existing edition of First Fridays with Visit Alamosa. The community once again gathered to support our favorite National Park, enjoying specials, and displays and finding opportunities to access the $20 gift vouchers that could be spent at participating businesses. 

Orange flags once again were proudly displayed throughout Alamosa and people from all over came out to show their love and celebrate. This year brought extra pride to the team at Visit Alamosa, the National Park, and the Alamosa Community as a whole. This program grabbed the attention of the Colorado Tourism Office, leading to Visit Alamosa winning a Governor's Award for ‘Outstanding Community Tourism Initiative.’ Boasting this award, the team was fueled with the momentum they needed to bring the program back in 2023, bigger and better than ever!


2023, Yeah, It’s A Thing Now

At this point, the program's continuation was a no-brainer. Receiving state-wide attention and recognition, this program had all eyes on it waiting to see what would come next. As proven in years before, the We Love Our National Park Campaign came out strong. The Voucher Program made its third comeback and was as well received as the previous years. Alamosa  Businesses continued to participate and show their support with themed specials, beautiful art, and window displays and helped Visit Alamosa to ‘paint the town orange’ during this month-long celebration. Giant orange hearts were found along the sidewalks, orange flags flew, and the month was off to an amazing start. 

The kick-off celebration transformed into a block party on San Juan Ave celebrating the Sand Dunes Rangers and park personnel who protect and share the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Rangers attended the event sharing information with the public about the National Park, and leadership Alamosa-wide attended. City Council and County Commissioners danced alongside park officials unifying the relationship between our Gateway Community and Our National Park! Salida Circus roamed the block entertaining attendees and keeping the scene lively. Bands performed live on stage, including a performance from the Adams State University DrumLine. Rangers were presented with small gifts of appreciation, and County Commissioner Lori Laske presented the reading of a County proclamation, showing appreciation for the Rangers who work tirelessly to protect and share the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The party was a hit and the National Park was truly celebrated in style. 

To continue what was now a tradition, the Visit Alamosa Team roamed throughout Alamosa ‘popping up’ in local businesses to give visitors and the community vouchers in exchange for them telling us what they loved about the Great Sand Dunes. 

Elizabeth Sumner, one of the key curators of the event speaks to the power of this program stating, "This program, like the Great Sand Dunes itself, continues to inspire. It has sparked spending in travelers, inspired connectivity in our business community, and celebration in our Alamosa community. It is my hope that it can also inspire creativity and artistic expression within our community across all age and talent levels." 


Enter Year Four, 2024

This beloved program is making a comeback in 2024, marking its fourth anniversary! Director of Destination Development at Visit Alamosa and one of the curators of the event, Elizabeth Sumner speaks to the significance of the program stating, “This program, which started as a recovery effort, has evolved into this incredible, beautiful, community-wide program that helps our local economy, strengthens partnerships, elevates our favorite national park, and adds a little flair and a bit of orange to the beginning of the summer season. I am humbled and honored to be a part of it, and cannot wait to see what the future holds for this program.”

This year will see the return of the Voucher Program. Visitors will once again be able to enjoy Sand Dunes themed specials and discounts at 30 different locations throughout Alamosa, and will be invited to follow participating businesses for a chance to win an exclusive ‘Adventure in Alamosa’ gift package, complete with a lodging stay, and a guided jeep tour. In addition to the fun new ways for visitors to enjoy the April celebration, we will be inviting the community to celebrate the Great Sand Dunes National Park and preserve though art. 

Visit Alamosa has commissioned 13 murals to be installed at the Colorado Welcome Center, and will launch the inaugural Youth Art Showcase in 2024. Twelve of the new murals have been imagined and designed by local artists, Katie Dokson & Bianca Maestas. The community is invited to join us in painting these murals in early April. The 13th mural, by Casey McCoy Arts will also find its permanent home at the Colorado Welcome Center, and will offer a more permanent declaration of how much Visit Alamosa loves the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. 

In 2024 Visit Alamosa will also launch the Youth Art Show, inviting our youth to showcase their interpretation of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to view the Sand Dunes through the lens of our young artist community. 

Allow us to give you a full line up of events for the month:

April 3: Trivia: We Love Our National Park Edition

Visit Alamosa will take over Spare Keg Brewerks Trivia (starts at 7 pm) with amazing prizes, fun swag, bonus games, and a few National Park themed bonus questions. Brush up on your Sand Dunes trivia, bring the team and get ready to have a blast!

April 5: Kick of the We Love Our National Park Celebration with us Downtown at First Fridays with Visit Alamosa!

Don’t miss a special presentation by Ranger Patrick Myers at the San Luis Valley Museum, and be sure to check into HQ to learn about the amazing celebration ahead and the various ways to win We Love Our National Park Swag! 

April 6: We invite you and the entire family to join us to participate in the ‘Share the Love’ Community Mural Project.

Here, you will be able to take part in painting murals that will be displayed at the Colorado Welcome Center for years to come! This will take place at 8591 South River Road in Alamosa Colorado from 10am-3pm. Visit Alamosa will provide entertainment and refreshments! 

April 20: Enjoy FEE FREE DAY at Great Sand Dunes National Park!

Part of the National Parks Week that sparked it all, enjoy free admission at our favorite National Park and spend a fun filled day at the dunes! 

April 27: Mural Unveil at the Colorado Welcome Center

We invite you to the Colorado Welcome Center to watch us unveil the Murals painted by the community, the unveiling of the 13th mural, and the reception for the youth artist community. 

April 27-May 3: Visit Alamosa will be hosting a Youth Art Showcase for our young artists at the Colorado Welcome Center.

Don’t miss seeing the Great Sand Dunes though the eyes of our youngest artist. The opening reception will be on April 27 from 2pm-3pm following the unveiling of the murals! 



The Great Sand Dunes National Park is a local treasure and we love celebrating the park alongside all of the community members that come out to the events and show their love for the National Park! This program continues to thrive within the community and it would not be possible without all of those that attend, all of the businesses that participate, and the collaboration of the wonderful officials at the park! 


We invite you to join us in celebrating the We Love Our National Park Celebrations fourth year and hope you come out and enjoy all of the events that are to come! 


Want to learn more about the We Love Our National Park Program, click here to visit the official page for the event! We hope to see you during this epic month-long event! 

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