Colorado Off Road: Medano Pass to Great Sand Dunes NP

fusseli

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Ran this east to west the other day as a back way into the Great Sand Dunes NP. 10/10 would recommend. I've done trails in Oregon, including a Jeep badge of honor trail, and Moab, and I have to say this was more fun than many others. I would call it moderate; it's fun and a breeze if you know what you're doing but might seem technical for beginners. There are over a dozen water crossing on the dunes side of the pass, 9 of which are official creek crossings. There isn't enough sand to be worried about; my 265s at 30psi hardly slipped... ever. On the east side of the pass there are several technical easy rock crawls and some steep angles, even one climb with small 6" steps in the pic attached. I toyed with 4 low and locker but it's definitely passable without them. With them it was a piece cake, point and go. I have a 2019 FX4 since new with 32" AT tires and Fox 2.0 leveling kit and didn't touch once; the Ranger is a beast! The dunes themselves are incredible and a great place to kill an afternoon. Too bad NFS doesn't allow an off road park in the dunes. Fall was the perfect time of year for this trail.

In a common offroader's book this is a blue. They use a familiar scale of green (easy), blue (moderate), red (hard/black-diamond). I agree.

Edit -- forgot to mention, got all the way to the park and guess what the park ranger vehicles are? Ranger XL FX4s 😆👌

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AndyMedic

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I need to go back and run the full trail. I camped out there earlier this year but it was mostly closed from snow/ice still.
 
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fusseli

fusseli

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I need to go back and run the full trail. I camped out there earlier this year but it was mostly closed from snow/ice still.
June-October seems to be the preferred window for this one. There are a TON of camp site all along the entire trail. The ones near the dunes were occupied but there are dozens farther up that were not.
 
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Frenchy

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I will not argue that it is a fun trail(I did it last year on the Pathfinder and the year before that a few times in the Ranger).

As a suggestion I say get an air compressor for the Ranger. When running on sand especially you should air down. When going OffRoad you should air down.

Reasons why to air down include but not limited too, #1 less chance of getting a punctured tire from sharp rocks or sticks, #2 better flotation on loose sand and dirt, #3 better comfort on rough terrain, #4 better traction over objects as the tire will want to form around said object and grip it more.
 
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fusseli

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I will not argue that it is a fun trail(I did it last year on the Pathfinder and the year before that a few times in the Ranger).

As a suggestion I say get an air compressor for the Ranger. When running on sand especially you should air down. When going OffRoad you should air down.

Reasons why to air down include but not limited too, #1 less chance of getting a punctured tire from sharp rocks or sticks, #2 better flotation on loose sand and dirt, #3 better comfort on rough terrain, #4 better traction over objects as the tire will want to form around said object and grip it more.
Yep I use a Viaire mobile compressor when needed. This trail it was not needed and stock 30 psi did great.
 


Frenchy

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Yep I use a Viaire mobile compressor when needed. This trail it was not needed and stock 30 psi did great.
Correction, if it is a basic dirt road(Rampart Range being a great example) then it is not needed. A trail like Medano or worse, it is needed.
 
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fusseli

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Correction, if it is a basic dirt road(Rampart Range being a great example) then it is not needed. A trail like Medano or worse, it is needed.
Rampart is a dirt road any car can pass. The exception being the fun, optional, detours where even the Ranger can three wheel. I've done them all, piece of cake in this rig.
 

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Ran this east to west the other day as a back way into the Great Sand Dunes NP. 10/10 would recommend. I've done trails in Oregon, including a Jeep badge of honor trail, and Moab, and I have to say this was more fun than many others. I would call it moderate; it's fun and a breeze if you know what you're doing but might seem technical for beginners. There are over a dozen water crossing on the dunes side of the pass, 9 of which are official creek crossings. There isn't enough sand to be worried about; my 265s at 30psi hardly slipped... ever. On the east side of the pass there are several technical easy rock crawls and some steep angles, even one climb with small 6" steps in the pic attached. I toyed with 4 low and locker but it's definitely passable without them. With them it was a piece cake, point and go. I have a 2019 FX4 since new with 32" AT tires and Fox 2.0 leveling kit and didn't touch once; the Ranger is a beast! The dunes themselves are incredible and a great place to kill an afternoon. Too bad NFS doesn't allow an off road park in the dunes. Fall was the perfect time of year for this trail.

In a common offroader's book this is a blue. They use a familiar scale of green (easy), blue (moderate), red (hard/black-diamond). I agree.

Edit -- forgot to mention, got all the way to the park and guess what the park ranger vehicles are? Ranger XL FX4s 😆👌

20231009_010148872_iOS.jpg


20231007_204610739_iOS.jpg


20231007_204417498_iOS.jpg


20231007_191947894_iOS.jpg


20231007_190429039_iOS.jpg


20231007_183334798_iOS.jpg


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20231007_181153141_iOS.jpg


20231007_180618958_iOS.jpg


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God that looks incredible, I wish the trails here in florida had this kind of view but alas
 
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fusseli

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fusseli

fusseli

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I need to go back and run the full trail. I camped out there earlier this year but it was mostly closed from snow/ice still.
I believe the preferred window is June/July through October. It's open as early as April or May but muddy and problematic in some spots. Dry it's a breeze and a lot of fun!
 

AndyMedic

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Ran the full thing last week. It was awesome except for 50+ miles an hour wind at 20 degrees overnight before a snow storm rolled in. Night wheeled half it also. My diesel heater kept us warm all night.
 

Frenchy

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Ran the full thing last week. It was awesome except for 50+ miles an hour wind at 20 degrees overnight before a snow storm rolled in. Night wheeled half it also. My diesel heater kept us warm all night.
Yeah I would definitely be careful in certain parts at this time of year, but then again here I am getting ready to do a good big of New Mexico next week and who knows what will happen
 

AndyMedic

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Yeah I would definitely be careful in certain parts at this time of year, but then again here I am getting ready to do a good big of New Mexico next week and who knows what will happen
We are fine to single digits and below with our heater, we were watching weather for a weather and knew the front passing through. I agree though things change fast at elevation and different terrains.
 
 



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