The Sand Ramp Trail
The Sand Ramp Trail skirts the east and north sides of the dunefield for 11 miles, starting at Piñon Flats campground and ending at Sand Creek Camp, on the north side of the dunes. En route, there are 6 designated back-country campsites. Camping at these sites requires a free permit, which you can obtain at the Visitor Center.
An alternative starting point is Point of No Return, about one mile north of the campground on the Medano Primitive Road.
Parking is limited there, so check for availability when you obtain your permit.
If you are looking at older maps or literature, be aware the Sand Ramp Trail was recently renamed from two trail segments called the Little Medano Trail and the Sand Creek Trail.
Campsites along the Sand Ramp Trail
Escape Dunes: 2.4 miles from Piñon Flats campground (1.4 miles from Point of No Return).
The campsite is in an open grove of ponderosa pines.
Indian Grove: 3.9 miles from Piñon Flats campground (2.9 miles from Point of No Return).
Nearby is a grove of ponderosa pines where trees were peeled by Ute and Jicarilla Apache people.
The bark and cambium layers were used for shelter and medicine.
Little Medano: 4.9 miles from Piñon Flats campground (3.9 miles from Point of No Return).
Little Medano Creek is a good close water source
Aspen: 6.7 miles from Piñon Flats campground (5.7 miles from Point of No Return).
This is the highest and coldest of the back country sites, sitting at an elevation of 9,240 feet above sea level.
Cold Creek: 9.9 miles from Piñon Flats campground (8.9 miles from Point of No Return).
The site is located in a rugged valley filled with ponderosa pines.
Sand Creek: 11.5 miles from Piñon Flats campground (10.5 from Point of No Return).
Situated in a grove of cottonwood trees on the very edge of the dune mass, this is a site worth hiking for!
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve is for nature lovers