Medano Pass

4.9/5 (82 reviews)
Westcliffe, Colorado (Huerfano County)
Last Updated: 12/01/2022
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Trail Information

Highlights

Medano Pass offers travelers breathtaking scenery, plenty of free dispersed camping, hikes, sand, and water crossings. Truly a gem in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, Medano Pass is your gateway to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. The Great Sand Dunes offer a vista that can be found nowhere else in the state of Colorado. The Great Sand Dunes are the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising to a maximum height of 750 feet (229 m) from the floor of the San Luis Valley on the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, covering about 19,000 acres.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Medano Pass is a great option for an alternate route into or out of The Great Sand Dunes National Park. The trail can be run in either direction. This is a good trail for any beginner or veteran and should be passable by just about any stock, high clearance 4wd vehicle. The scenery is beautiful, and there is a good mix of rock, sand, and water crossings. On the road's east side, you'll find the trail is mostly dirt, trees, and rocks. On the west side, it gradually becomes sandier with frequent water crossings. Be aware - the water crossings can be 2-3 feet deep during the spring snowmelt season and remain relatively deep throughout the year. Always use caution when fording water. Great Sand Dunes National Park charges a standard parks entrance fee for any non-commercial vehicle inside the National Park. Entering the Great Sand Dunes via Medano Pass does not have a ranger pavilion at the park entrance. Drivers are asked to visit the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center to pay the entrance fee. Entrance fees directly provide for maintenance and improvements to the park and preserve.

Trail Reviews

4.9/5 (82 reviews)
Greg Stokes
Official Crew
27300
Status: Seasonal Closure
Rated 5/5
Visited: 12/01/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Closed for the season. See you next year!
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/30/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

This was a last minute decision and we started later in the evening. We drove in through the park and only went half way. Great views of the sand dunes, mountains and wildlife. The kiddos always get excited for a water crossing, none of them were bad but we only did a few. We're excited to complete this trail next time we're in the area.
Trail Review: Medano Pass - Tony Faiola
Trail Review: Medano Pass - Tony Faiola
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/29/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

My wife and I loved this trail! We ran it from East to West. There was about 3" of fresh snow that cleared up after Waypoint 3. The slight hill before waypoint 2 was challenging in the slick snow, but our new 32" Duratracs got us up on the third attempt! The deepest water crossing was just above our hubs. Lots of full-size trucks were up there in hunting camps. Our lightly modified Trailblazer didn't get any pinstriping, but I bet the big trucks did.
Trail Review: Medano Pass - Ben Mercer
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 09/25/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Alert - Deep mudhole above creek crossing 6. Do not attempt to cross it; most vehicles are getting stuck. I ran it west to east. I got stuck and the people who towed my out also got stuck. Alert is posted on National Park Service website.
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/27/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Ran east to west on 22psi. This trail has a little bit of everything good. Fun climbs up from the forest boundary to the pass. A little bit of attention needed in spots on the descent but nothing nasty. Water crossings weren’t problematic. Toughest part was navigating past oncoming traffic above the preserve boundary. Ended up catching a break and camped at #2 before taking the kids to the dunes the next morning. Will run it the other way next time.
Trail Review: Medano Pass - Tanner Mitchell

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