The Medano Pass trail can be easily traveled by a capable 4WD vehicle with moderate clearance. There are a couple of flat rock obstacles to be covered, a steep descent and the several creek crossings can be very challenging during the early spring runoff. Several years ago the most difficult obstacle was a deep rut crossing through one of the streams but the Forest Service has routed the trail to a much easier crossing location.
From Colorado Springs take Hwy 115 or Nevada Avenue South for about 40 miles to Florence Colorado. From Florence take SR 67 South until it dead ends into SR96, approximately 12 miles. Take SR96 approximately 25 miles into the town of Westcliffe. Go South on SR 69 for approximately 23 miles until you see a small sign on the right showing the way to CR 559 or Medano Pass Rd. After turning on CR559 you will be crossing private land (Wolf Springs Ranch) on the way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising about 750 feet from the floor of the San Luis Valley on the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The Great Sand Dunes Park covers about 19,000 acres.
The dunes were formed from sand deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, westerly winds picked up sand particles from the river flood plain and as the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are continuing to grow.
Medano Pass is also known as the back way into the Great Sand Dunes Park. If you are looking for a 4 wheel challenge then this is not the trail for you. What Medano Pass has to offer is beautiful scenery, several creek crossing through crystal clear streams and of course the Sand Dunes.
Through the years this has been one of the best attended camping trips led by the CSC4W club. If you have not been to the Sand Dunes via Medano Pass you are truly missing an incredible experience. Medano is the Spanish word for a mound of sand, sand bank or sand dune.
While we are not allowed to drive on the Dunes, the roads surrounding the park are covered with a very light, dry sand. To drive in this type of sand you will want to air down your tires to very a low air pressure and remember that momentum is your friend.
Due to the distance covered traveling to the Medano Pass the club usually schedules this as a camping trip.
GPS Coordinates N 37°50'189" W 105°18'458"