Mosca Pass Trail
Hiking the Mosca Pass Trail is a great adventure in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. A welcome variation from the park’s quintessential dune expeditions, this trek boasts breathtaking views that reveal the enormity of the sand dunes and the lofty snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range.
Join our newsletter
Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers
Route Description for Mosca Pass Trail
The Mosca Pass Trail provides a unique hiking experience in the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Instead of a typical sand dune excursion, this lovely trail climbs up to the Mosca Pass, exposing a stunning overlook of the sandy mounds and the craggy peaks. Though not a technical adventure, we recommend a pair of sturdy footwear as there are some rocky sections along the way! Additionally, this path climbs at a high altitude, so we suggest acclimating to the area’s elevation prior to your trek and heading out before noon to mitigate the chance of getting caught in an afternoon lightning storm. Layers are also a good idea! Note that the National Park charges an entrance fee of $25USD for 1-6 passenger vehicles.
Colorado’s topographic diversity is evident along the Mosca Pass Hike. Though this route travels away from the famous dunes, this trail exhibits the beauty and grandeur of the sandhills. Accessible year-round with the proper equipment, we recommend hiking in the fall. The autumn offers vibrant aspen glades, thinner crowds, and epic vistas of the Sangre de Cristo’s snow-capped summits. Additionally, this trek is ideal for families as the route can be customized to your liking and ability levels by simply turning around halfway through—no problem! If you seek to add more variety to your Great Sand Dunes National Park itinerary, then the Mosca Pass Trail is a great addition.
Your scenic adventure along the Mosca Pass Trail begins from the parking lot and trailhead off Highway 150. From here, hike east up the Mosca Pass Trail. This path will guide you along Mosca Creek as you gradually climb towards the pass. The initial segment of the hike wanders through mixed pine forests, Douglas firs, and vibrant aspen groves. Enjoy the shade of the lush vegetation while you can, as the path will soon become exposed. About halfway up to the pass, the route will open, rewarding expansive views of the dunes in the west. Revel in the grandeur of the mounds and notice those exploring the sandy terrain.
This is a great place to turn around and begin your descent if you are tired. If not, continue climbing alongside the gurgling waters of Mosca Creek. This section of the hike will weave between sparse tree shade and open alpine tundras. As the terrain becomes increasingly exposed, keep an eye on the skies and retreat beneath the treeline if there are dark clouds. Continue trekking east up the increasingly rocky route until you reach the summit of Mosca Pass. You will be joined by those who drove up the eastern slope of the pass from here. Revel in the beauty and diversity of the wilderness, noticing Carbonate Mountain across the saddle in the south, and Mount Zwischen in the north. After admiring the scenery, retrace your footing down the path back to the trailhead and parking lot.
Mosca Pass is a mountain pass in the Sangre de Cristo Range in southern Colorado. Sitting at an elevation of 2,961 m, the pass boasts awe-inspiring views of the Sand Dunes in the west, the encompassing Sangre de Cristo snow-capped lofty summits, and the Great Plains in the east.
Additionally, this mountain pass borders the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in the west and the San Isabel Forest in the east. Exposing breathtaking alpine vistas and lush scenery, this is a great hike of the non-sand variation in the National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you drive up Mosca Pass?
Yes, daring adventurers can climb up the eastern side of the pass on County Road 583. Note the road is subject to seasonal closure and 4-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicles are recommended.
How long does it take to hike up Mosca Pass?
The Mosca Pass Trail is an out-and-back hike that can take anywhere from 3-4.5hrs to complete.
Where is Mosca Pass?
Mosca Pass is a mountain pass in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range in southern Colorado, west of Walsenburg (Huerfano County).
Insider Hints for Mosca Pass Trail
- Pack plenty of water, the elevation, and gradual climb will tire you!
- Charge your camera, this trek boasts epic vistas of the sand dunes and the Sangre de Cristo summits.
- When trekking in the winter consider bringing a pair of microspikes in case the terrain is cloaked with ice or snow!
- Make sure you are acclimated to the area’s altitude prior to your hike.
- Wear layers, the pass is often windy and cold.
Getting to the Mosca Pass Trail Trailhead
The Mosca Pass Hike is accessed via the Mosca Pass Trailhead off Highway 150 in the Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Mosca Pass Trail Elevation Graph
Weather ForecastCheck Area Weather
Mosca Pass Trail Reviews
Add a comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.