Alamosa County, Colorado
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Nearby Towns: Alamosa
Nearby Trails: Medano Pass
Trail Length: 6 miles
Elevation: 8,229 to 12,222 feet
Named Obstacles: Jaws 1, Jaws 2, Jaws 2 1/2, Jaws 3, Jaws 4
Recommended by Bob S.
Recommended by Don
Recommended by Eric B.
Recommended by Robert
This is one of the most extreme trails in Colorado, with all different kinds of obstacles. 33" tires, a winch, and at least one differential locker are required to successfully complete this dangerous and beautiful trail.
Blanca Peak itself is 14,345 feet at its height. It is an impressive mountain very near Alamosa and the Great Sand Dunes. It is rocky at the top and the base is very gradual and smooth. It is a very popular mountain and trail for hikers.
The trail starts off as a long, steep, loose rock trail that is very nearly completely straight as it goes up to the steeper part of the base of the mountain. Then it is a series of long switchbacks that become more narrow as you gain altitude. It isn't long before you have a beautiful view of the valley below.
Once the switchbacks end you start up the mountain on a trail that is almost as straight as the beginning of the trail. It takes you through trees and over rocks. Though many of the rock obstacles are large and can high center a vehicle, these smaller obstacles are not named.
The first named obstacle, Jaws 1, is the beginning of the roller coaster ride to the top. If you do not feel you can do this obstacle you should turn around at this point.
Jaws 1 will test your vehicle's clearance and its ability to stay upright. It is a long, thin mound of rock that slants toward the edge of the trail. It is very easy to get high centered here as you work your way over it, and your vehicle will become very tippy on the other side. You may need to try a few different approaches before you find the right one. The line to the far right is the widest part so you will find the lowest chance of high centering, but it is extremely tippy. There is plenty of room to turn around before attempting Jaws 1.
Jaws 2 isn't much further, and it is the most dangerous one. There is a plaque remembering Leonard Davis, one of many who have died here. It has since been built up on the cliff edge to make it slightly less dangerous, but it is still very risky. It is a series of rocks that lean out toward the edge, with just enough room to work your way over it without falling off. It is often wet and muddy, making it even more dangerous. There is some room to turn around at the bottom before attempting Jaws 2.
Jaws 2 1/2 is a chunk of rock with a "V" notch in it, making it a fun place to test the flexibility of your suspension. You are not in any danger of falling off of a cliff, so you can safely play here. If you go far to the left around the center rocks you can get through without flexing. There is room to turn around before this obstacle.
Jaws 3 is the most technical of the obstacles and it has an easy bypass around it if you don't want to attempt it. The bypass goes to the right at the "Y" in the trail where Jaws 3 continues up to the left. It is a wall of steps and sandy rock that you must climb. The climb would be impossible without lockers, and a winch would help here.
After Jaws 3 there are many other rocky sections and narrow shelf roads as you work your way to Lake Como. This lake is beautiful and large, nestled in the trees and surrounded by mountains. There is lots of room for camping and there are usually lots of people there.
Jaws 4 is around the lake and up the hill. When dry, this obstacle is a mound of rock that is fun to climb but is not particularly challenging compared to the rest of the trail. When wet and muddy this obstacle can be very dangerous and nearly impossible. There is a cliff at its edge and there is no bypass. There is room to turn around before you move into the trees, so you may want to park in this open area and walk a bit up the hill to check the conditions of Jaws 4 before attempting it.
Past Jaws 4 is a bit more of the trail, with a few rocky and unnamed obstacles. The trail ends at 6.0 miles at Blue Lakes, with a stunning waterfall behind it. You can hike over the waterfall and even further to Crater Lake.
This trail should never be driven alone. Make sure you and your vehicle are prepared before attempting Blanca Peak.
- August 25, 2007: ran by Matt K. and Steve B.
- August 19, 2006: ran by Bill S., Bob R., Don, Gary and Monica
- August 6, 2005: ran by Bob S., Bob R., Eric B., Ladd, Monica and Robert
From Denver, take I-25 south to Walsenburg, then take Highway 160 west. Before you get to Alamosa you will turn north on Highway 150 following signs to the Great Sand Dunes. Road 975 is on the right, about 3.2 miles down Highway 150. Drive a little way down this road to find a large area to air down and leave trailers if necessary.
Those coming from the Denver area might want to meet on exit 184 off of I-25 at the Conoco gas station to the west of the highway.