It was a beautiful day for a rocky drive up to Rainbow Lake in June. There was a small rainshower, and a subsequent rainbow - how perfect, considering its namesake!
We just had two vehicles in our caravan this time.
The terrain is pretty rocky, and while not technically difficult, it is a constant bouncy ride. You better have a strong enough bladder to withstand it!
The elevation is pretty high. This means there are some steep dropoffs from the shoulder of the road, and some of these occur on switchbacks - so its best to take it slow and easy. The big rocks have you bouncing all over, and the last thing you want to do is bounce off the cliff by going too fast.
Another thing to be aware of with the elevation is the potential for altitude sickness. Though we are Colorado natives and used to living up here, the mountain is a marked difference from being down in town. When we arrived at Rainbow Lake, there is a short hike down to the water, and that bit of exertion was enough to cause signs of altitude sickness in my wife. When that happens, just find a place to sit, slow it down and drink plenty of water.
The lake itself was beautiful, surrounded on all sides by hills, so we appeared to be in a bowl.
The landscape was the most interesting part of the drive. The area had seen some wildfires in the recent past, and the tree trunks were still blackened and stripped.
The view below was a gorgeous valley, surrounded by nothing but mountains for miles.
The drive down went a little faster than the drive up. Maybe too fast, as our trail partner bottomed out on some protruding rocks and left his blue scuffs as evidence.
September is an excellent time to travel Medano Pass. The Colorado fall colors can peak any time between September and October, and it's a gorgeous experience when you can catch nature at her most brilliant.
We had a good turn-out for this ride, and our convoy had 6 Toyotas. We equipped the lead vehicle and the rear vehicle with CB radios in order to keep the group moving together.
Once we reach the trailhead, everyone stopped to air down their tires. This enables better traction on sand and rough terrain.
We used a trail app on our phones to make sure we were headed the right way. Although so many trails snaked into one another it was still hit or miss determining the trail path.
Mostly if the road was open, we took it.
The trail is easy going and fun.
We crossed several small streams - but the conditions of these streams may vary based on the watershed for the year.
We encountered quite a bit of traffic on the trail, and passing oncoming vehicles sometimes required patience and clever maneuvering.
The trail eventually gives way to sand as we near the Great Sand Dunes National Park.Once on the sand, we had to keep moving to avoid getting stuck. We pulled over to the side of the trail briefly, and patrol vehicles quickly discovered us and insisted we move on.
The dunes themselves were a fun exercise. We still have a beach-load of sand in our shoes from that day, and well-defined calves.