For the visitor standing at Medano Lake, Mount Herard dominates the skyline west of the lake. Rising more quietly, but still strongly, to the north of Mount Herard sits UN 13135, unofficially named “Medano Peak.” Mount Herard may have the name and the stature plus the Great Sand Dunes views, but “Medano Peak” provides plenty of solitude and views abound from the apex, and the grassy summit is perfect for lounging.
The Crestones look downright sinister from the vantage point of the “Medano Peak” summit. Greenhorn Mountain is visible to the east, and Badito Cone marks the southern terminous of the Wet Mountains like the dot on an explanation point! From “Medano Peak,” the visitor really gets an appreciation for the length of the Sangre de Cristo Range, which stretch from near Salida, Colorado to the north well into New Mexico.
Rank: 520th highest peak in Colorado
Prominence: 653 feet
USGS Quad: Medano Pass
Trails Illustrated Map: #138 Sangre De Cristo Mountains
Rank & prominence information source: Lists of John
UN 13135 is easily reached from the Medano Lake Trailhead accessed via the Medano Pass Primitive Road. Excellent information about this trailhead, including instructions on Getting There, can be found in SP Member csmcgranahan Medano Lake Trailhead page.
Medano Pass Primitive Road is a rough 4x4 road suitable only for high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles. Due to the wide variety of conditions on this road, most vehicles will find it necessary to travel the road from east to west. This is why:
The road includes soft sand for about 2 miles, 9 creek crossings that may be deep in late spring, and a rocky roadbed near the summit of the pass. If sand becomes soft during dry times, dropping tire air pressure to about 20 pounds may be necessary. Full tire pressure is required to drive over rocks higher on the pass, so if you do drop pressure, you will need to either 1) have your own air compressor to refill before going higher on the pass, or 2) drive the road from east to west, and reduce pressure after going over the pass but before driving through the soft sand. A free air compressor is available at the western entrance to the road in the national park.
View a NPS map of Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Because the peak lies within the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, more regulations apply than if visiting the National Forest. Some regulations are somewhat more relaxed in the Preserve than in within the Park boundaries. A few key highlights:
• Fees: It is noteworthy that if approaching from the east on Medano Pass road, no fee is collected for entry.
• Camping: Permits are required for backcountry camping and it is preferred that you camp in designated or at least existing sites. Car camping is permitted only in designated sites (front or back country.) No camping in the krumholtz tree zone or higher.
• Regarding pets: Pets are permitted in the main national park day use areas and in the national preserve as long as they are kept on a leash less than 6 feet long. They are not permitted in the national park backcountry. Please keep the park clean by cleaning up after your pet.
• Note that the Park Service will close Medano Pass Road whenever conditions warrant doing so (fire danger, wet conditions, deep snow pack, etc.)
• Bear-proof storage of food, garbage, toiletries, fish guts, etc., is required.
Camping in the vicinity of Medano Pass Primitive Road is limited to established campsites. These campsites are rustic and dispersed, offering a surprising amount of solitude and privacy. They also contain bear lockers for storage of food, garbage, toiletries and other smelly items that may be of interest to hungry bruins. There are three campsites right near the Medano Lake Trailhead.
For more information about these campsites and for updates on road conditions and closures, visit this National Park Service site.
Weather & Seasons
Due to seasonal closures of Medano Pass Road, plus long, trail-less approaches, “Medano Peak” would be best saved for mid-summer through early fall.
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