No Agenda Vacation Day 4 — Medano Pass (August 9)

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We had another relaxing, slow-moving morning. Breakfast, coffee, and reading. Once we got moving, camp came down in a hurry and we made excellent time up and over pass. The climb wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be.

We washed up a bit at the trailhead and then drove down our road- which took awhile! I was surprised at how long it all felt, especially the drive on the paved highway. We headed south and then pulled off the highway onto another dirt road. This road, rough as well, led to Medano Pass. It was great to finally hit the forest service land where we could get out to air down the tires. Ah, the smooth ride felt great.

Photo credit: Dorinna Ruh

The climb up to the pass was steep and rocky, but nothing that the Jeep couldn’t handle with ease. It’s been fun learning the capabilities of the vehicle, always more than I think it will be. At the summit we met some friendly crazy Germans from Köln who had a taken a 4WD passenger car up from the park. That’s crazy and not recommended. There are too many places where you can hit rocks or get bogged down in sand (#RentalCar).

Medano Pass is the start of the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. This is a large area of federal land which surrounds and protects the dunes themselves, which are a national park. The 4WD road follows Medano creek from the pass down into the sand dunes.

Photo credit: Dorinna Ruh

The drive was relatively smooth, with fun stream crossings and great views. There are a lot of campsites along the road. The sites are primitive, with only a parking place, a spot for a tent, and a metal cabinet for protecting food from bears. They are free, and much less crowded than the park’s regular campground. We took one near the bottom, where sand was the predominant feature of the landscape. Before setting up camp, we drove out to the sand dunes themselves.

The camp was pretty and it was nice to unpack and organize a little. Adventures in the dunes were coming up on the following day.

This is a series of posts about what I have dubbed the “No Agenda Vacation” from August 2018. I’ll chronicle our 13-day road trip through the southern Colorado mountains with stories and photos. With luck you’ll see a new post on roughly a weekly basis.

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