Medano Pass breaks off from a bleak stretch of Highway 69 outside of Westcliffe and winds through seemingly every one of Colorado’s major landscapes. Desert gives way to dense pine forests, which gradually break for rich yellow aspens and winding rivers, eventually wearing down into sandy hills and sage brush.

High wind and heavy rains kept us tucked away beneath tarps and tents after our crawl to the summit. We woke the next morning, hazy and damp, to blue skies. Perfect weather to white-knuckle our caravan through the final 12 mile descent into our final destination, Great Sand Dunes National Park.