The west side of the pass has some spots that open up as I mentioned earlier. Nothing too scenic, but there is a section near the Medano Lake trailhead with decent views to some peaks to the north in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. The whole western side is littered with stream crossings as Medano Creek zig-zags its way along. I've never seen so many on any given trail! I counted 9, all pictured below, with two other spots that are small puddles or brooks. On this June trip, only two or three of these crossings got to about hub deep, or about 15".
There are 25 numbered backcountry campsites marked on sign posts on the west side along the road. A number of them are absolutely great spots. The road turns to sand at campsite #3. A little ways later, the first view of the dunes, or dune in this case, is available. You can traverse most of the sand in 4WD, high range. Signs at either end in the park mark the deeper, sandier section which suggest airing down to 15 to 20 PSI. I neglected to do so, knowing I would be fine at street pressure. I put it in low range for this section and couldn't have made it through in a couple areas otherwise. Just be sure to keep your momentum, or if you have to park in a deeper section, make sure to do it when pointed downhill.
One thing you would think there would be on this trail if you've never traveled it before, would be a great sweeping overlook of the sand dunes, being that you're coming from a higher elevation. But alas, that is not the case. However, the views that are available of the dunes as you travel north/south along them in the monument are fantastic. The dunes are one of Colorado's greatest features and help give it the great diversity we all enjoy. In fact, just within the National Park and Preserve's boundaries alone, lies the most naturally diverse landscape in North America! From the wetlands and grasslands in the San Luis Valley, to the evergreen and aspen forests with the alpine peaks in the higher elevations, all coming together to form a magical place in terms of wildlife and outdoor adventure. Truly awesome!
For more about the Great Sand Dunes, you may read my in-depth article here.