Explore Medano Creek


Added by Katie Lyons

This seasonal adventure is great for families or solo adventurers looking to explore one of Colorado's less visited national parks.

Great Sand Dunes National Park is a natural anomaly. The towering mounds of orange sand contrasted against the Sangre de Cristo mountain range have inspired photographers and hikers for years. One less known interesting aspect of this park is that a seasonal creek flows through the desert valley for just a few months every year.

Medano Creek is created by annual snow melt run off and flows through the park between April and July. The peak flow of this creek occurs between late May and early June. This is a great time for families with children to go because tubing is possible and very safe with a responsible parent nearby. Additionally, the water reaches about 2 feet deep in the deepest areas which is a great height for young children to enjoy. Great Sand Dunes is also dog friendly, which can be especially fun for families with water-loving dogs.

Medano Creek makes for an interesting photography subject  because of how it contrasts with the surrounding landscape. Taking photos that include the sand dunes, Sangre de Cristo range, and Medano Creek are especially stunning. Because crowds can be an issue during peak season, photographers need only hike approximately half a mile up stream to take pictures that don't include tourists. 

Great Sand Dunes is a location in Colorado that becomes even more spectacular during summer months. Explorers don't have to look hard to find adventure hiding around every river bend. 

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Know for

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly



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🥇Top Contributor

almost 5 years ago

A great way to cool off after hiking the dunes

If you're headed to the Sand Dunes then you'll want to make sure that you go when there's water in the creek. A quick call to the ranger station can let you know how high the creek is running, but like Katie says, peak flow is between May and June. One of the interesting facts about Medano is that it has "waves". As the sand walls build up and eventually break, water surges can be seen flowing down the creek periodically! Make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray! The sun can quickly bake you and the mosquitoes will eat you alive without preventative measures. Sometimes we like to take a cooler full of drinks and snacks along with some camp chairs to just sit out and relax with our feet in the water.

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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