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Medano Pass Rd

Easy to Moderate Difficulty

medano map Directions: From Denver drive south on Interstate 25 approx 2-1/2 hours to Walsenburg. Take Colorado Highway 69 west to Gardner. From Gardner drive about 8 miles until you see the forest service and Huerfano County signs showing "Medano Pass Road." Take a left and follow the signs.

Trail: Ever been to the Great Sand Dunes National Monument near Alamosa in southern Colorado? Medano Pass goes between highways 69 and 160 by way of a scenic off-road trail that passes through the Sand Dunes. The pass will take about three hours to cross. If you're a tent camper it's a nice place to get away from it all. Your stock vehicle will make the scenic trip easily during low water. The melting snow in late spring and early summer usually requires a lifted vehicle as you'll do high-water creek crossing several times. I've watched a stock height full-size Bronco push water with the windshield; it can get deep!

The trail starts (or ends, depending on direction) about eight miles north of Gardner. The first several miles are county-maintained dirt road. The road does cross private property several times so respect the property of others and tread lightly. You'll also pass through National Forest land with primitive camp sites along the way. There is a "mud hole" to cross that can be deceiving. During the summer months there is plenty of traffic, so if you get stuck someone will eventually pass by to pull you out (hopefully). Creek crossing usually means climbing out over eroded banks that may give you a bit of a challenge but they're not usually too bad. There are a few spots that are tight for full-size vehicles with mirror-eating trees that want to get just a little too close. That's forgivable in autumn when you pass through a section of road that is completely enclosed in Aspens. The colors are magnificent during the fall color change.

On the other side, you'll be in the Great Sand Dunes National Monument where you'll have to pay an entrance fee to exit on Highway 150. It may be a good idea to air down your skinny tires once you hit the sand. There are air hoses to refill once you get to the RV campground area. We usually turn around and head back the way we came, but if you've had enough you can take Highway 150 south to Highway 160 and head east to Walsenburg.

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