“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Mosca in Alamosa County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)

Zebulon Pike's “sand-hills”

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Zebulon Pike's "sand-hills" Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, October 9, 2010
1. Zebulon Pike's "sand-hills" Marker
Inscription. On January 28, 1807, Lt. Zebulon Pike and his small band of tattered, hungry, foot-sore soldiers camped near here, having just crossed this snowy Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Under orders from General James Wilkinson to explore the southwestern boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase and locate the Arkansas and Red Rivers, Lt. Pike became the first person known to describe the Great Sand Dunes in writing.

Jan. 27th. We marched, determined to cross the mountains ... After a bad day’s march through snows, in some places three feet deep, we struck on a brook which led west. This I followed down, and shortly came to a small stream (Sand Creek), running west, which we hailed with fervency as the waters of Red river. Saw some sign of elk. Distance 14 miles.

Jan 28th. Followed down the ravine ... After marching some miles, we discovered through the lengthy vista, at a distance, another chain of mountains; and nearer by, at the foot of the White (Sangre de Cristo) mountains which we were then descending, sandy hills.

We marched on the outlet of the mountains, left the sandy desert to our right, and kept down between it and the largest hills of sand, and with my glass could discover a large river (the Rio Grande) flowing ... through the plain. I returned to camp with news of my discovery. The sand-hills extended
Zebulon Pike's "sand-hills" Marker image. Click for full size.
Google Street View (©2014 Google), September 2012
2. Zebulon Pike's "sand-hills" Marker
View to northeast from State Route 150
Visitor Center in background
up and down the foot of the White (Sangre de Cristo) mountains about 15 miles, and appeared to be about 5 miles in width. Their appearance was exactly that of the sea in a storm, except as to color, not the least sign of vegetation existing thereon. Distance 15 miles.

- Lt. Zebulon Pike, January 28, 1807

(Lower Right Drawing Caption)
Pike’s journey took an unexpected turn a few days after his visit to the dunes. While camped along the Rio Grande which he mistook for the Red River, he was contacted by Spanish soldiers who informed him he was trespassing on Spanish territory. He and his men were escorted to Chihuahua, Mexico, and later returned to Louisiana.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. 37° 43.844′ N, 105° 30.833′ W. Marker is near Mosca, Colorado, in Alamosa County. Marker is on Colorado Route 150 0.2 miles south of Visitor Center Entrance Driveway, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mosca CO 81146, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 5 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Sangre de Cristo Ecosystem (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Mountain Barrier (approx. 0.2 miles away); Stepping into Wilderness
The Great Sand Dunes image. Click for full size.
By Duane Hall, October 9, 2010
3. The Great Sand Dunes
View to northwest from marker
(approx. 0.6 miles away); A Landmark for People (approx. 2.1 miles away); "Totally Unique and Unexpected" (approx. 3 miles away).
Also see . . .
1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Official National Park Service website. (Submitted on February 20, 2014.) 

2. Pike's Crisis in Colorado. From the Zebulon M. Pike Expedition and Pike National Historic Trail Association website. (Submitted on February 20, 2014.) 
Categories. Exploration
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 298 times since then and 101 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Photo of wide-view of marker and surroundings. • Can you help?
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