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The first light of the day catches a wind swept peak of one of the taller sand dunes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve as the Sangre de Cristo mountains rise above the dunes in the bakground. The park located near Alamosa, is the state's newest national park and features stunning sand dunes that rise more than 700 feet above the floor of the San Luis Valley. Last year the National Park Service completed the conversion of Great Sand Dunes from a national monument to a national park. The park now encompasses some 150,000 acres and the dunes were formed by blowing winds that have carried sand across the San Luis Valley and deposited them at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for thousands of years. (MARC PISCOTTY/ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS)

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