The Great Sand Dunes National Park Quarter represented the fourth release of the year and the twenty-fourth release overall within the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. The site depicted on the coin ranks as the third most visited park within the state of Colorado.
The reverse design of the quarter features a scene of a father and a son playing in the sand next to a creek bed within Great Sand Dunes National Park. the distinctive mountains and sand dunes are seen within the background. An outer rim contains inscriptions “Great Sand Dunes”, “Colorado”, “2014”, and “E Pluribus Unum”.
On the obverse of the coin is the 1932 portrait of John Flanagan, which has been used throughout the series in common. The inscriptions read “United States of America”, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “Quarter Dollar”.
The Great Sand Dunes Quarter was released for general circulation on August 25, 2014. The coins released for general circulation consisted of coins struck at the Philadelphia and Denver Mint facilities. The mintages reached 159,600,000 at Philadelphia and 171,800,000 at Denver.
The United States Mint also struck various version of the coins for collectors. The San Francisco Mint produced circulating quality versions of the coin which were available only within numismatic bags and rolls. The San Francisco Mint also struck clad and silver proof versions of the coin included within annual proof sets.
As with previous releases, the Philadelphia Mint utilized the same design for five ounce silver bullion and collector coins. The bullion coins were sold based on the market price of silver plus a fixed markup through the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers. The collector coins were sold by the United States Mint directly to consumers.
About Great Sand Dunes National Park
There are few places in the world where you can see make a sand castle, slide down sand dunes, float in a river, and hike through arctic tundra on your way to the top of a thirteen thousand foot high mountain peak, but all of these things and more are possible at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. The dunes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park are some of the most unique in the world. The landscape is surrounded by mountains, the home of wetlands, and the site of seasonal streams and permanent lakes.
If you’re wondering how in the world there came to be giant sand dunes in the middle of Colorado, you’re not alone. Scientists are still unraveling the geological record that tells the tale of how the dunes came to be smack in the middle of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
In 2002, geologic researchers discovered that a large lake once covered the entire San Luis valley between the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains. When climate change slowly started to cause the lake to shrink and dry up, the sandy lake bottom was exposed to the sweeping winds that came through the valley. Over many years, erosion and wind cause the tiny grains of sand to pile up into the dunes that we see today.
The area, including the mountains that surround it was first protected by the federal government in March of 1932. In 2000, the federal government purchased 97,000 acres of surrounding land, tripling the size of the protected area. At that point it also become a National Park and Preserve with the intention of preserving the unique American landscape.