FAIRPLAY, Colo. — Looking for a last-minute summer adventure? How about a trip up Mosquito Pass, an old highway between Fairplay and Leadville that only the toughest could tackle.
At 13,186 feet, Mosquito Pass is the highest navigable pass in the state of Colorado and offers beautiful views and a peak into Colorado’s past.
“Back in the late 1880s, after the big Gold Rushes had filled Cripple Creek and the Pikes Peak Region with miners, people began to move on and they moved across South Park into this valley called Mosquito Gulch,” said Greg Burbach an avid historian.
The road is as rugged now as it was back then.
“These roads aren’t maintained. They’re county roads and they’re marked on any good map,” Burbach said.
The so called “road” connects from Fairplay to Leadville but few can make it that far.
“Mosquito Pass is quite a journey and difficult for even the best four-wheel drive,” said Burbach.
But those brave enough to try will be rewarded with incredible scenery and maybe even a new friend or two.
“There’s elk, moose, beaver. You can see just about any kind of wildlife, including fish in this little beaver pond,” said Burbach.
In the late 1800s Mosquito Pass was one of the busiest roads west of the Mississippi and became known as “The Frozen Road of Death.”
Tough to conquer even in today’s standards, just imagine what it would have been like back then.
“It makes you remember that the people who made this great state were the kind of people who could conquer this kind of place, and the people who had the will and the desire to make it over the next hill,” said Burbach.
One man made the trip more than once and became known as the Snowshoe Preacher.
“Father John Dyer was a Methodist minister. He came here from Minnesota in the 1880s and he was already 62,” said Burbach.
Dyer came to Colorado to see Pikes Peak but something inside made him keep on going.
“When he arrived somehow his gospel background made him go over the next hill like the rest of the miners and he preached in Leadville, Breckenridge, Nathrop, all the way down to Salida and all the way up to Silverthorne.”
The road is only officially open for a few weeks in the summer and a trip up Mosquito Pass must be carefully planed. Also, remember to pack bug spray as there is a reason it’s called Mosquito Pass.
“They are happy to fill up any time that you come by,” said Burbach.
Interested in visiting Mosquito Pass? Here’s how to get there:
- Follow Highway 24 over Wilkerson Pass and into Fairplay
- Just north of the city off Highway 9, you’ll find a road leading to Mosquito Gulch
- Follow the road until you hit Mosquito Pass
Be advised, a sturdy 4×4 vehicle is required!