Medano Creek is now flowing through the sand near the main parking area at Great Sand Dunes National Park, sure to draw crowds seeking to witness the natural phenomenon in person.
According to the National Park Service, the creek was approximately 10 to 20 feet wide and a half-inch to two inches deep at the parking lot area as of April 21. Current flow data shows that discharge has since increased from 4.54 cfs then to 5.22 cfs on April 28, meaning that the creek will likely be a little more active than detailed in the last update. This is still quite a bit off of peak flow, which is around 40 cfs, likely to be hit in late May or early June.
Editor's Note: Flow measurements of Medano Creek are taken where it emerges from the forest, not as it passes the parking area. This measurement point is approximately five miles upstream of the area most people view.
If you want to see the creek but skip the crowds, start looking to plan your trip to the dunes in early May. If you want to see a more impressive flow and don't mind more people, hold off for a couple more weeks. Visiting during a weekday is also a good way to avoid long lines and parking difficulties during the peak viewing season starting in late-May.
While Colorado's statewide snowpack is a bit low at around 76 percent of the to-date median (80 percent in the Arkansas River Basin), the National Parks Service is still expecting Medano Creek flow to be average this year. In a year as dry as this one, that's something to be happy about.
Find a month-to-month breakdown of what to expect at Medano Creek on the Great Sand Dunes website.