Colorado - Great Sand Dunes NP HP

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Gary Neben
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Colorado - Great Sand Dunes NP HP

Peaks: "Herard Ridge" 10520

Dates: 10/21/2017

Post by Gary Neben » Sun Oct 22, 2017 3:12 pm

Start/End Loc: Sand Ramp TH at Medano Creek, NE corner of Great Sand Dunes Nat’l Park
Distance/Elevation: ~5 miles RT/2490 feet elevation gain

The high point of Great Sand Dunes Nat’l Park is located on its NE border. This border divides the park from the Great Sand Dunes Nat’l Preserve which, I believe, is a specially designated wilderness. Peakbagger calls the high point Great Sand Dunes Wilderness High Point while LoJ calls it Herard Ridge.

Juliette, Jamel, and I made the long drive for a day trip to the dunes to find the high point, thinking that the new adventure would compensate for the long drive. None of us had been on the 4WD sandy Medano Pass road that runs N-E on the eastern side of the park nor had we been to this corner of the park before. I suggested that we take Jamel’s F-150 instead of mine since his is about 200 lbs lighter than mine and might help with the sandy road.

We didn’t have much trouble with the sandy road but this may be due to limited traffic that allowed us to keep our momentum going through the deeper sections, our F-150 tires are slightly wider, and the park got a little moisture last night. I could see how with more traffic and frequent stops you would be more likely to get stuck. There is also one creek crossing that was about 1 foot deep. The park does provide an air compressor near the Pinon Flats CG so that you can deflate before starting on the road and re-inflate when you return. :thumbup:

There is very limited parking at the Sand Ramp TH, two vehicles only. I don’t know why the park doesn’t enlarge the parking as trucks overflow onto nearby grassy areas. :thinking: From the TH we had a nice trail hike on sand, crossed Medano Creek with running water, walked through some minor dunes, then shortly later left the trail for a buttress/ridge that would take us efficiently to the high point.

The bushwhacking is not bad. There are some rocky outcrops that we had to navigate through. I left a bunch of cairns higher up to help with the return but we actually came back a different way to the E which didn’t work out as well. The high point was marked with a cairn and a disintegrating register. We enjoyed the views on this cool weather day. As we left I walked directly down the ridge for 2-3 mins and found a second high point cairn, no register.

We did have a good time, something new to do, but it was indeed a long drive for us. Following are some photos and a GPS topo showing our route.
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Re: Colorado - Great Sand Dunes NP HP

Post by andrewrose » Mon Oct 23, 2017 12:48 pm

Looks sandy! Sounds like the drive was the crux of the day.

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Re: Colorado - Great Sand Dunes NP HP

Post by JBE » Wed Oct 25, 2017 12:20 pm

That was a great day, with a lot of sunshine.
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Beauvais Jeanmard
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Re: Colorado - Great Sand Dunes NP HP

Post by Beauvais Jeanmard » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:45 am

Not your average highpoint! And a seldom seen vantage point of the dunes! :rock:

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