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Mosca Pass Trail, Colorado. Photo By: Amy Henschen.
Mosca Pass Trail, Colorado. Photo By: Amy Henschen.

Mosca Pass Trail

Things to do


This moderate trail crosses over one of the lowest points of the mighty Sangre de Cristo Mountains, connecting Great Sand Dunes National Park in the San Luis Valley with the Wet Mountain Valley to the east. Most people hike it from the Sand Dunes side, where it leaves the sand behind and runs 3.5 miles through forests to a gentle meadow at the summit. This is a historic trail, used by Native Americans and later as a toll road by early settlers. It affords great views of the dunes and the Blanca Peak massif to the south. The trail terminates at a parking lot on the pass.

Pro Tips

  • This is a great opportunity to get away from the crowds that swarm over the sand dunes in the park. Savvy hikers have even been known to avoid the park entrance fee by hiking in over Mosca Pass from the east side, though that may seem like a lot of effort to avoid paying the $15 per-car fee.
  • Visit for free entry to the park on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Veterans Day, National Public Lands Day, National Park Week in April or the National Park Service birthday celebration in late August.
  • Backcountry camping is available at the pass. The National Park campground fills every night in summer, so make reservations or be ready camp outside the park, at The Oasis Campground or nearby Zapata Falls Campground.

Recommended season(s): Spring to late fall.

R. Scott Rappold

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