Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO 6/17/16-6/19/16

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Aug 21, 2003
Tijeras, NM
Thinking about spending Father's day up at the Sand Dunes/Medano pass and doing some camping. I'm still developing a plan but would like to leave after work on Friday. Google map said it's about 4.5 hour drive. I'm hoping to go through the park and camp on the Medano pass road camp grounds <-- click

The water flow seems to be slowing down so I need to get there for the kids to play in the water/beach before the spring runoff dries up. Water flow link

If you want to join me, post up. I'll be taking Isabelle and the dog, not sure which vehicle to take as of yet. Most likely, I'll take the 4Runner and the Kamparoo.

I'm hoping to arrive there before it gets too dark to find good camping spots. I think the place gets busy by Friday.

Print out the map and guide below if you're going. I'd imagine there might be mosquitoes since we'll be camping next to a creek but not sure as I've never actually camped on the Medano Pass road.

Map and Guide

Printable (8.5"x14") Medano Pass Road Map and Guide (pdf)

Current Road Conditions

Refresh this page for the latest update.

updated June 11, 2016

The road is in good shape for 2WD cars to reach Point of No Return. Between Point of No Return and Castle Creek Picnic Area, sand has average firmness. Most vehicles will not need to drop air pressure.

The primitive road is now open up to the fourth creek crossing in the national preserve (6.4 miles). Ten campsites are now open in the lower part of the canyon. The remaining 11 campsites higher on the pass road are not yet accessible by vehicle. The road has some soft mud sections in forested areas.

The road between the closure at the fourth creek crossing, and Muddy Creek on the east side of Medano Pass (USFS), is still closed. More downed trees still need to be removed. In an average year, the road opens all the way over the pass by late May.

Check the park's weather page for the most accurate park forecasts.

Reminder: High-clearance 4WD vehicles are required on this road. Mini-SUVs, wagons, and other vehicles will get stuck. ATVs are not permitted anywhere in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. All vehicles must be highway-legal in Colorado.

Contact the Visitor Center for the latest information and conditions: 719-378-6395.

Current Level of Medano Creek

From Great Sand Dunes, the Medano Pass Road crosses Medano Creek nine times on its way to Medano Pass. See thecurrent cubic feet per second (cfs) flow of Medano Creek (available spring through fall). This current flow chart is shown as a graph over the past 10 days; click "1 month" for a longer trend. Creek flow is normally highest at dawn, and lowest in late afternoon. Peak flow for an average season is about 40 cfs (cubic feet per second). When creek flow goes over 50 cfs, the road is closed for safety, since water that high can sweep a vehicle downstream.

Medano Creek Information and Current Conditions


Creek crossings may be deep, especially in early summer. Drive slowly through crossings to avoid drowning your engine.
NPS/Patrick Myers


Click View Park Map at left to see the official park map with zoom-in capability. This map shows the Medano Pass Primitive Road's route through the park and preserve. An area map of the Medano Pass Primitive Road showing regional towns and highways is also available.


Each of the 21 campsites along the road has a fire ring and bearproof box to store food and other items.
NPS/John White

snow, creek, and road conditions.

These designated sites are free of charge and first-come, first-served. All 21 sites fill on summer holiday weekends, and often on other summer weekends.

Map and Guide

Printable (8.5"x14") Medano Pass Road Map and Guide (pdf file) showing locations of campsites along the road, and
Good plan! I have obligations that will keep me in ABQ, but I wish I could tag along!
We are planning on leaving Fri. morning. Is there a camp site we should stake a claim to?

Print out the pdf linked above and you'll see all the CGs on the Medano pass road. Maybe find a space with two fire rings or perhaps a large spot that can accommodate both of our vehicles, that'd be great. I'll prolly arrive after 8pm and will contact you on HDC_2 146.400 as I get closer to the visitor center at the park.

This fire in the east mtns is close to some of my friends so I'm not sure if I have to help them evac or what so that'll factor into my plans for tomorrow!

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