View Full Version : Medano Pass / Sand Dunes NP

07-01-2009, 02:00 PM
We met up with some friends for a weekend at Sand Dunes NP. It was really a great trip, none of us had ever seen the Dunes before and it was certainly worth the long drive. Having 4wd is key to enjoying this park, the front of the park was packed with tourists the back side is protected from tourists by warning signs indicating the cost of a tow if they get stuck in the sand, it really thinnned people out. Here are some pictures...

A rainy day as we headed up Medano Pass

There is a lot of wildlife in the area

This sign did not go over well with the :Princess:

Our campsite was about 4 miles from the dunes up the medano creek, the campsites are all very nice with about a 1/2 mile between them...


The sandy road from the medano pass area into the NP,


Bring a sled, the kids had a great time sledding down the hill or just rolling down it...

my 8 year old daughter climbed to the top, look for the dot, she slept well that night. The creek is a lot of fun for the kids to play in also as it is constantly changing direction and is very shallow.

We were told no trip to the sanddunes was complete without seeing the Gator farm so off we went...

The kids get to hold all sorts of critters including a small gator...

07-01-2009, 02:08 PM
I love that area, one of the first places I ever used 4whl drive in my old bronco :D

Did you take the hike up to Zapata Falls? Really nice on a hot day

Baaah ... "point of no return" ask Mountain Drew .... he will remember me taking the Lexus ES-300 down to the sand pit parking area base of the dunes :D

07-01-2009, 02:09 PM
One of my favorite areas.

We once mapped out and took a back way to Albuquerque that went over Medano and had an overnighter in the park. My son got hummingbirds to swarm around his red baseball cap. Had a very good conversation with a ranger from the greener end of the political scale, worthwhile. We combined it with a ride on the Cumbres & Toltec RR.

Great trip! The pass looks many times healthier than it did when we took that trip (in a drought).

07-01-2009, 02:31 PM
Very cool Will! One of the trips I want to do is go over Hayden Pass, camp out in the park, then back over Medano Pass and home! Also need to make it to Zapata Fall some day.

The Gator Farm is also a kick in the pants (though a bit $$) - last year I took my buddy there and one of the workers was digging around in the muddy water trying to find a gator that had duct tape on its mouth - he was a comical guy and watching him mess with the gators (<6' in length ones) barehanded and barefooted for 15-20 minutes made it all worth it! We were almost on the ground laughing!

07-02-2009, 03:07 AM
Looks really cool. I need to visit this area soon!

Man Jerk
07-02-2009, 09:30 AM
A couple of years ago we camped down by the park in July. During the day it was oppressively hot and there was no place to go. Luckily we found Zapata falls and it was a gift from god. What a cool place.

I think we are going to try to do a trip down over medano in september.

07-02-2009, 09:39 AM
The Sand Dunes makes for great photography, and the kids love it. We didn't go this year for the first time in about 5. :(

What model RTT is that? Do the 5 of you fit up there (comfortably)?

One of the trips I want to do is go over Hayden Pass, camp out in the park, then back over Medano Pass and home!

I did that route in the opposite direction a couple years back. Very nice trip!

07-02-2009, 01:14 PM
What model RTT is that? Do the 5 of you fit up there (comfortably)?

It is an ARB Simpson II, only the wife and I sleep up top and we put the two kids in the back of the cruiser. They are 5 and 8 so they fit fine with the seat folded down. We don't know what we are going to do when they get bigger, it would be a tight fit if we tried to get everyone up top. Maybe an adventure trailer with another tent, my wife is parnoid she or the kids will be eaten by bears so the RTT was an easy sell but I am not sure what we will do in the future.

07-02-2009, 01:22 PM
I did that route in the opposite direction a couple years back. Very nice trip!

FYI - I'm pretty sure the East side of Hayden pass is ATV only now. I have driven it multiple times. But, when I drove it last time (about 1-2 years ago) from west to east (at night), it was obvious only ATV's were laying down tracks. It was real tight with one spot with a downed tree I barely got under but pushing it up with my hand as I drove under. I thought I saw a sign at the bottom indicating no jeeps or something. You might want to check it out.

07-02-2009, 01:34 PM
Thanks Scott, I need to make a trip down there to do that. Or a call to the local Ranger District. In 2003 my dad and I went almost all the way up the East Side of the pass in our stock '97 Tacoma, and would have made it up and over if it hadn't been for the snow at the top. It's in Charles Wells' book, at least the one in print at the time. The lower part didn't seem too tight, but maybe it gets tighter the closer you get to the pass?