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Backpacking: Colorado > Alamosa Area

Quick Facts

Amphitheater and Parking Area

Handicapped Accessible: Yes Platform in center of seating area
Size: 20 vehicles
USGS Maps: Zapata Ranch, Liberty

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Amphitheater Parking Area with Amphitheater in background - 10.98
Copyright: Jamiebea Hall - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Amphitheater Parking Area with Amphitheater in background - 10.98
The amphitheater and parking area is located on the right side of the road just before Piñon Flats Campground. Nightly campfire programs are offered at the amphitheater from Memorial Day to Labor Day. A wheelchair platform is located in the center of the seating area.

The Medano Pass Primitive Road is a four-wheel drive road begins across the road and goes north to Medano Pass and the Rio Grande National Forest. Soft sand may require reduced tire pressure. Air is available at the amphitheater parking lot.

Horseback riding is permitted in the Monument, but riding is not permitted in the main public use area (off the dunes parking lot). Medano Pass Primitive Road is a pleasant place to ride. Vehicles and trailers must be parked at the Amphitheater Parking Area. Please clean up after your horses in the parking lot. If camping in the adjacent National Forest and leaving a vehicle in the Monument, a free backcountry permit is required which is available in the Visitor Center.

The Monument has eight backpacking backcountry sites, with hiking distances ranging from .6 miles to 10.5 miles. Backpackers may also spend the night on the Main Dune Mass. A free backcountry permit must be obtained from the Visitor Center if you are camping in or leaving a vehicle in the Monument overnight. Backpackers can also camp in the Rio Grande National Forest (Medano Pass, Mosca Pass or Blanca Peak Trail).

The parking area is being expanded during the winter of 1998 and should be finished by spring of 1999. Currently there is room for about 20 vehicles.

Directions from Visitor Center: The entrance to the amphitheater is less than 1 mile from the Visitor Center and is located just before Pinyon Flats Campground on the right side of the road.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Year-round (NOTE: Visitor Center open 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in Summer months; varying hours in the Winter.) .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Family Camping Pinyon Flats Campground
ICON Fishing Medano Creek; Rio Grande National Forest
ICON Four-Wheel Driving Medano Pass Primitive Road
ICON Group Picnicking South Ramada (reservations required) and North Ramada
ICON Hiking & Walking Numerous trails in the area
ICON Horseback Riding Park at Amphitheater, Montville or Point of No Return; stay out of main public use areas
ICON Animal Identification Look for tracks in the sand, especially in early morning.
ICON Firewood Gathering Not permitted in the Monument; purchase from concessionaire in summer and from Visitor Center in winter.
ICON Lodging Alamosa, Monte Vista and Ft. Garland
ICON Mountain Biking Only on Medano Pass Primitive Road; some difficult sandy stretches
ICON Mountain Climbing Blanca Peak, Little Bear and the Crestones
ICON ATV Riding Only on Medano Pass Primitive Road, if vehicle and driver are licensed.
ICON Motorcycle Riding Only on Medano Pass Primitive Road, if vehicle and driver are licensed.
ICON General Information Visitor Center
ICON Picnicking Next to Dunes Parking Area, Sand Pit and Castle Creek sites
ICON Downhill Skiing Trying skiing the dunes, even in summer.
ICON Backpacking Overnight parking allowed; free permit from Visitor Center required.
ICON General Parking Amphitheater and Parking Area
ICON Attending Talks & Programs Summer programs at amphitheater; programs in Visitor Center year-round
ICON Viewing Interpretive Signs Picture Point Trail, Montville Nature Trail
ICON Guided Touring Concessionaire conducts tours on Medano Pass Primitive Road in the summer.

Nearby Services

Gas (available in summer months): The Oasis (Private-profit) Directions: Located at the Monument's south boundary

Restaurant (open April-October): The Oasis (Private-profit) Directions: Located at the Monument's south boundary

Related Activities
Dunes Overlook - The Dunes Overlook is a short side trail off Little Medano Creek Trail. It is about 1/2 mile in length and gives visitors a magnificent view of the Main Dune Mass.

Great Sand Dunes National Monument Visitor Center - Before venturing out to the dunes, stop by the Visitor Center. Here you can pick up information on the dunes and other park features. The center is opened daily, except on federal holidays in the winter.

Little Medano Creek Trail - Meander through a variety of terrain when you head north from the campground. Travel through escape dunes until the trail crosses Medano Creek. The trail ends at an overlook just beyond Little Medano Creek.

Medano Pass Primitive Road - The Medano Pass Primitive Road is a four-wheel drive road that begins in the park and goes north to Medano Pass and the Rio Grande National Forest.

Pinyon Flats Campground - Piñon Flats Campground is open all year on a first-come, first serve basis. Each site has a picnic table and fire grate. Facilities include water fountains and spigots as well as restrooms with sinks and toilets.

Pinyon Flats Group Site - Some group sites are available in Piñon Flats Campground. It is extremely popular and reservations are required. Since these sites are in such high demand, call the Visitor Center any time after January 2nd.

Pinyon Flats Trail - This trail connects the main Dunes Parking Area with Piñon Flats Campground.

Wellington Ditch Trail - This one mile trail can be accessed from Loop 3 of the Piñon Flats Campground if you park in the Amphitheater parking area. You can also park in the Montville parking area and start from Mosca Pass Trail.

More Information

Visitor Information:

Alamosa Visitor Information Center, Cole Park , Alamosa, CO, 81101, Phone: 719-589-4840, bluskys@alamosa.org


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