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Backpacking: Colorado > Alamosa Area

Quick Facts

Point of No Return Parking Area

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate 2 WD o.k.
Elevation: 8,100 Feet (2524.9 Meters)
Road Number: 235
Size: 5-6 vehicles
Trail Number: 887
Usage: Moderate to Heavy
USGS Maps: Zapata Ranch, Liberty

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description

Point of No Return Parking Area - 10.98
Copyright: Jamiebea Hall - Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Point of No Return Parking Area - 10.98
This is a turnaround area and small parking area, aptly named Point of No Return. It is provided for two-wheel drive, wide and/or long vehicles. It is important to heed the implied warning of Point of no Return; losing a vehicle is no fun.

From here, one may walk the short distance to Sand Pit Picnic Area or continue another 1/2 mile or so to Castle Creek Picnic Area. Medano Pass Trail makes a nice hike as well. The trail continues north as it parallels Medano Pass Primitive Road.

Directions from Visitor Center: Travel north from the Great Sand Dunes Visitor Center. At the entrance to Pinyon Flats Campground the four-wheel drive road continues north. Follow this for about 1 mile to the parking area.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Memorial Day Weekend through Mid-October .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON General Parking Point of No Return Parking Area
ICON Backpacking Eight backcountry sites in the Monument; free permit from Visitor Center required.
ICON Family Camping Pinyon Flats Campground
ICON Fishing Medano Creek; Rio Grande National Forest
ICON Group Picnicking South Ramada (reservations required) and North Ramada
ICON Hiking & Walking Numerous trails in the area as well
ICON Horseback Riding Limited turnaround space for trailers; 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 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.

Related Activities
Castle Creek Picnic Ground - This picnic site is located on Medano Pass Primitive Road where Castle Creek joins Medano Creek. Either drive a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle or park at The Point of No Return and walk.

Castle Creek Trail - At Castle Creek, the dunes rise abruptly from the creekbed. Dune slipfaces avalanche as they near angles greater than 34 degrees. Steep slipfaces are challenging to climb; stay on the ridges and slide down the faces.

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.

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.

Sand Pit Picnic Ground - This is a nice place to come for a picnic, whether you drive your car to The Point of No Return and walk a half mile or walk from the campground.

Sawmill Canyon Campground - For a unique backcountry experience, Sawmill Canyon Campsite offers excellent scenery and solitude. Less then 1 mile north on Medano Pass Road, the two car parking area can accommodate up to four wheelchairs.

More Information

Visitor Information:

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


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