Lake Como (Blanca Pk) Trailhead
Info

Location

Range: Sangre de Cristo
Coordinates: 37.53861, -105.57611
14ers: Blanca Peak, Ellingwood Point, Little Bear Peak
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Road Difficulty

Difficult 4WD, requires modified 4WD vehicle (not stock) 6   (0=Paved, 6=Very Difficult 4WD)
2WD access to 8,000' from the west via the Lake Como Road (off of Colorado 150). 4WD access to approx. 9,000' via the Lake Como Road. Severe 4WD (heavy modified vehicles or ATV only) access to 12,000' above Lake Como (via the Lake Como Road).

Driving Directions

From Colorado 160, east of Alamosa, turn north onto Colorado 150 toward Great Sand Dunes National Park. Drive over 3 miles and turn right onto Lake Como road (aka Blanca Peak road). The type of vehicle you are driving will determine how high you can park. Most cars can drive about 1.5 miles up before it gets rough. 4WD SUVs and trucks can slowly make it 3.25 miles to several pull-offs at 8,800', before the road turns nasty. This is a popular parking spot and gets you within 4 miles of Lake Como. If you have a high-clearance, small, 4WD vehicle you might be able to drive to 10,000'. An ATV, UTV or modified jeep/crawler can get to Lake Como but it depends on the driver.

Winter Access

Closed near 8,800 feet.
Status Updates 
  
Posted By: sctbke
Info: Found some old Toyota keys on the road - looks like theyve been there a bit, dm me if you want them back!

Road is as described but is no joke. Extremely rough and made mostly of loose boulders. Got my 07 Honda Pilot to the steep hill around 9000. Lowered tire pressure for it. Most vehicles with a true low range could make it to around 10,000 at the tight left switchback with the big rock obstacle. After that road gets much rougher and tighter.

Ended up getting high centered on a rock on the way down, had to build some rock ramps to get out, and had to do some emergency trail repairs as the rock bent some sheet metal in the undercarriage into the drive shaft and caused rubbing. Immediately after that there was a Jeep rollover around 2.5 or 3 miles up the road. Not sure what the cause was, but not a good situation. You can get a standard SUV up the road a good distance, but be prepared for an adventure, and choose lines carefully!
 
Posted By: Mitsugi
Info: Don’t even bother trying to drive it unless you have spend many thousands on lifted vehicle suspension.

Nomination for worst walk in the rockies. This road is a pretty bad time.

This creek crossing people are discussing seems to be resolved as many Jeeps made it to the Lake.
 
Posted By: Sgranteed
Info: Creek crossing just after JAWS 1 is completely washed out with a new JAWS formation to get past. A few men and their kids threw rocks in the hole for 1.5 days and made a bridge wide enough for them to get atvs down and across, but it is almost not wide enough for a jeep or truck tog we down and through.

This new JAWS formation was impassable for any vehicles, Jeeps/trucks, and only saw 2 atvs go past in and they were scared they werent going to be able to get back up it. Definitely needs some drastic work done before getting past that section now.
5 
Posted By: GordoByrn
Info: Parked at 8800. Nissan Rogue AWD was there.
I’ll attach a pic of the parking area at ~10k.
Creek crossing at 10.7k was chugging this morning. Forded both ways. Tons of water above this point. I’ll post a pic looking up 7a and looking down 2p. Water level is falling but check the down pic to see the wash out. No idea what this normally looks like. 1st time in the Sangres. No vehicles were above it.
Got back to 8800 to find the Rogue was replaced with an Outback. Some of y’all got driving skills!
Nice day out there. Had Ellingwood to myself, then passed a couple at the trail junction and had Blanca all alone.
4 
Posted By: mtgoatmike
Info: Drove up the road in my stock 2012 SR5 Tacoma to the "beware of bears" sign (upper trailhead parking?) Was traveling solo, so no spotter and didn’t know what the road had in store past this point. Could have driven further up the road roughly one more mile or so, saw a stock Tacoma and Silverado 1/2 mile or so up, plenty of pull-offs for parking.
 
Posted By: ButterDips12
Info: There is no snow left to Lake Como; I made it up to 10,100ft. I am an experienced driver and had a good spotter. Scratched up my clear coat pretty good on tree branches and bent my lower plastic front bumper. Also hit my step rails a few times. Going to 10,100ft will take a toll on your vehicle. It is a gnarly road for sure.
 
Posted By: globreal
Info: The road is dry all the way to 10,250’ even last several snow storms last week. There is a pull-out here which has room for many vehicles and several camp spots. This is right before where the road has the big downhill section. If you have a good 4x4 you can dry this far and save yourself a lot of walking.
 
Posted By: aksean22
Info: The road is mostly snow free through the switchbacks to 10,000’. Snow is patchy from there to the river crossing, and continuous the rest of the way to the lake.
 
Posted By: angry
Info: At ~8840ft, there is space for two vehicles to park (one each on either side of the road). About 100ft higher there is space for one vehicle.
 
Posted By: weswood
Info: Once you turn on the road to Lake Como there is definite snow approximately 6"-1’ of snow en route. Would expect more to compile as winter continues. Largest obstacle was the large rocks on road. Made it to ~8300’ in 2016 Subaru Forester Sport. Could have probably gone up a little higher and driver wished we stopped lower coming down. As passenger had to hop out a few times on way back down to move larger rocks off to side. Once past 9’800 there is significantly more snow.
 
Posted By: Green_river
Info: This video gives an excellent example of Jaws 1 and 2.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKJ6zpfMxM4&list=WL&index=26&ab_channel=OffroadHub
 
Posted By: Been_Jammin
Info: 10.1K definitely seems to be the consensus spot to park for stock 4*4 SUVs and Trucks. My ’03 Tahoe Z71 made it here easily. Going above this point in a stock SUV/Truck is not practical. And that is coming from someone who drives the sh** out of their 4*4 and gives zero f’s about cosmetic damage.

There is only room for about 4-5 SUV/Trucks at the 10.1K switchback. It was full when i got there Saturday morning (7/11/2020). I retreated back to the 10K switchback where I got the last of three spots.
 
Posted By: Dayute
Info: Made it in 4.8 miles from the cattle grate to 10100’ in a Tacoma with 2" lift. A couple TRDPro 4runners made it this far as well. This last switchback before the long straight part is pretty tough so I parked it there. The smashed Jeep carcass at Jaws let me know I made the right decision.
 
Posted By: ClarkDeez13
Info: Ellingwood SW Class 3 Route Via lake Como

technical/difficult/exposed Class 3 & lighter Class 4. Great challenging route if you want to get away from all hikers, experience a high exposure knife edge and climb/route find your way up to Ellingwood pt with fantastic views the whole way.

Once you are committed, there are hardly any bail out points if at all off this ridge. Only climb if you are confident in your abilities on big exposure and much more technical class 3.

No cairns, you will follow the ridge the whole way and choose your own adventure at different pts to look for greater challenges (class 4) or avoid.

Came down the standard Ellingwood route.
 
Posted By: mikebabb
Info: Climbed up to the trailhead late Friday afternoon (around 5) after climbing Culebra in the morning. We managed to make it up the road about a mile and a half then decided to park after the road got rough. I wish we would have kept driving because we could have gone up another mile or so, but we assumed the road would only get worse based on reports on this website. We saw several vehicles smaller than mine ( I have a lifted F-150 with trail tires) that were much higher up and I kicked myself for not going further. In the end, I would rather hike a mile or two extra than risk screwing up my truck...

It was hot and a real trudge to get up the the top. It was steady elevation gain over the entire 5.5 miles and even more challenging given we were wearing heavy packs with all of our camping gear. We arrived after dark, but were still able to find a decent camping spot. It’s obvious that this place will only get more crowded on the weekends, so I would get there early if you are going. Also, there are several camping spots on the outskirts of the area and up the jeep road toward the 14ers if you get in a pinch...
 
Posted By: ncxhjhgvbi
Info: Got my stock TRD Off-Road Tacoma to the switchback at 10,075’ pretty easily. If you can get past the difficulties immediately after the parking at 8,800’, then you should be able to get to that point. The next stretch before the large flat area at 10,200’ is steep and loose (pic attached). I helped spot a 4runner as they backed down that section and decided not to give it a go as my tires are a little worn. He would back down 6" and break, sliding another 4-6" every time - very loose. If you can get past this, you can probably keep going almost all the way to Jaws I at 10,400’ - there are 2-3 pretty big obstacles that require clearance but the road actually seemed to improve a lot after that steep loose section. Going down the road was pretty tough on the upper sections because it is so loose, I think it took me longer to descend than ascend. There were some crawlers headed up as we were hiking down and side by sides made it all the way to the end of the road by the waterfall. There were some downed trees just before the lake around 11,500’ so not sure if the side by sides went over or around them...
1 
Posted By: Buckie06
Info: Road is clear of snow to the lake. I was able to get my 4wd Xterra with skid plates and locking diff to the large parking area next to Jaws 1 at 10,400. If I didn’t have an experienced spotter with me it would have been very difficult to get that far. I was easily able to get to the two car pull-off at 9,900’ though.
 
Posted By: LetsGoMets
Info: Summer conditions.
 
Posted By: HikerBox
Info: Road is dry all the way to Jaws 1.0 and up to 1/4 mile from the lake. If you can drive to 10,000 feet you should try to get another half mile/400 vert further, the two big rocks in the road right ahead of that parking area are your only obstacles.
 
Posted By: Sgranteed
Info: Road is clear to about 10,200ft just above the first major camping site overlooking the San Luis Valley up in the trees above the first set of switchbacks. Two Small snow patches, I have a trail rated CFMoto and was able to squeeze through using some previous tire tracks and then at 10,350c (1.8 miles from lake right before the creek crossing, more snow drifts that were pretty packed until my machine hit and I sunk in and couldnt pass because it was just to narrow, had a brought my shovels, which I plan on doing next weekend, with only a few minutes of work could have cleared the path and gotten up and probably past the Jaws sections and maybe a wee bit of snow at trees before lake, but thats what the shovels will be for again. Have fun and be safe.
4 
Posted By: CaptCO
Info: Stopped RWD F150 at 8,500. Small snow patches began a little higher in elevation and leading up to the lake. One newly abandoned Jeep with a broken windshield, tail lights, and some gear still in it. Somewhere around jaws 1
1 
Posted By: sallenrogem87
Info: Parked 2 miles in from the highway at about 8,200. This is a decent sized parking area. Good place to put your Subaru. We were driving a newer Outback. We stopped here because why push your Subie to the limit in the middle of nowhere on the toughest road in Colorado? :-) To the lake, this is exactly 5.40 miles of hiking on a not so great road, but honestly not bad in terms of views and footing. You just watch where you are stepping and poles are helpful. Road is dry and any water that we encountered on foot was a piece of cake to get though. If you hike just Blanca from this parking spot its 17 miles round trip, doable, but a long day. Took us 11hrs, but we did get a ride down from a very skilled and thoughtful Jeep Renegade driver who parked about 1.5 miles higher than us, so that vehicle made it 3.5 miles up the road from the highway.
 
Posted By: annsparks
Info: I made it to just over 10,000 in a stock Jeep 4 door Wrangler Sahara. Road was dry all the way up. At 10,000 the road bends and turns decently nasty and steep but there is a pull off to safely park. That put us about 2.75 miles from the lake. The steam crossing was low and easy. Is driving that tough 4x4 road and hiking up to the lake to camp worth it? Yes. Yes it is.
3 
Posted By: Trotter
Info: Road completely free of snow. Lots of big alternating holes dug into the road about 2.5 miles up, I think most suburus or crossovers will drag bottom on these. If your vehicle can make it 3.5 miles (8800 feet), keep going another mile. The road is bad at 3.5 miles, but then improves a lot for the next mile. This would get you to about 9800 feet.

For the creek crossing, about half the hikers went barefoot or water shoes to cross, other half found some sketchy rocks or branches to tiptoe across. Its running high.
 
Posted By: spaceman_mort
Info: Drove up to around 10,000’ in my Grand Cherokee. Trail is snow free and generally dry all the way up to the lake. The water crossing is still flowing fast and quite deep, I walked about 50’ uphill from the road crossing and was able to find a mangle of trees and rocks and cross without much difficulty. However, I wouldn’t say it felt very stable...I’d bring an extra pair of socks just in case.
 



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