Getting to the trailhead is a great 4-wheeling adventure. The Medano Lake trailhead is located on a spur north from the Medano Pass road about a half mile west of the pass.
Medano Pass road is accessible from the west via Great Sand Dunes National Park. Take a left turn onto an unpaved road from the main park road just past the water/air station. This is the beginning of the Medano Pass road. Park Rangers recommend lowering tire pressure to about 25psi to better maneuver in the sandy road. Follow this road up towards the pass past several nice meadows and camping sites with firepit grills. The turnoff for the trailhead is well signed to the left about a half mile below the pass. You will drive through Medano Creek 8 times on the way to the pass.
Medano Pass Road is accessible from the east via C.R. 559 and Highway 69. From the intersection of Highways 69 and 96 in Westcliffe, travel south on Highway 69 for approximately 24 miles and turn right on C.R. 559. C.R. 559 is signed for Medano Pass Road. You will travel approximately 7 miles to the forest boundary. The last two miles to the pass requires 4-wheel, high clearance due to a few rocky steep sections. At the pass you will drive through the back entrance to Sand Dunes National Park. About a half mile past the pass turn right at the well signed trailhead spur.
There was one water hole that was over a foot deep along this short spur to the trailhead. The bottom was solid in early July, 2005 but you may want to scout the depth. Beyond this water hole there are two great campsites with firepit grills that are filled first come. Beyond the second campsite the road becomes rough again but is manageable to the trailhead parking area.
It is highly recommended that you contact Great Sand Dunes National Park to assure the pass is not closed due to snow or high water at one of the 8 creek crossings west of the pass. The Park site also includes maps of the area and directions to the park.
There are two crossings, one in particular, within the Park, that can challenge avid 4-wheelers during heavy run off years. Proceed with caution and rely on your experience. These crossings will often have water rushing over the hood of your vehicle. Stalling in the crossings could be catastrophic for you and your vehicles interior and your vehicle's engine.
It is recommended that you arrive at the trailhead from the east and afterwards proceed west to the Park, reach the sand, lower your tire pressure and then air back up at the air station in the Park.
Destinations Accessible from the Medano Lake Trailhead