Mosquito Pass  
Maps:                 
USGS 7.5' Map: Alma, Climax
Statistics:
Difficulty: Number: Miles: Altitude: Obstacles: Time:
Easy 4 Cnty 12, Cnty 3 6.40 13,280 ft. Ledge - 2 2-3 hours
County: Park and Lake
Adopted by:      
Managed by: Park County
Lake County
501 Main St, Fairplay, CO 80440
505 Harrison Ave., Leadville, CO 80461
(719) 836-2771
(none)
Summary: Mosquito Pass is one of the highest drivable passes in Colorado. It passes through some large mine properties.
Attractions: Scenic views. Mines. History.
Seasonal
Closure:
Natural - Closed by snow.
Best Time: June - Too early, still snow drifts
July - Late usually open
August - Best
September - Best
October - Early snows
Trail Heads:  
Camping: There are few dispersed sites on the east side of the pass. The west side has none until you are back down below timberline.
Base Camp: The west side of the pass would be a good place to base camp and explore the roads around the major mine sites east of Leadville.
Fall Colors: Poor - In the lower sections of Mosquito Creek there is some color. The west side is mostly treeless.
Navigation: From Fairplay, CO. head northwest on Colorado Hwy 9 north, Main Street, toward 4th Street. Continue to follow Colorado Hwy 9 north for 4.3 miles. Turn left onto County Rd 12 / Mosquito Pass Road. After 0.5 miles there will be a slight left to continue on County Rd 12 / Mosquito Pass Road. After 4.4 miles there will be a slight right to stay on County Rd 12 / Mosquito Pass Road. After 2.0 miles the county road will turn left and cross Mosquito Creek. This is the unofficial start of the Mosquito Pass 4WD road.

From Leadville, CO. head east on East 7th Street for 0.7 miles. Continue onto County Rd 3 and go 2.0 miles passing many intersections. Take a slight left onto County Route 3B and go 0.5 miles connecting back into County Rd 3. Go 1.0 mile and turn left to stay on County Rd 3. You will cross two creeks going 0.4 miles, turn right to stay on County Rd 3. Go 1.5 miles passing an intersection to your left for Birdseye Gulch. The switchbacks of the Mosquito Pass 4WD road will be ahead of you.
History: As the story goes, Mosquito Pass and the Mosquito mining district got its name in mid 1861. Miners of the region had met to decide on a name and had many suggestions, but no name had a consensus. All the names had been recorded in a book. At the next meeting when the book was opened to the list of names an ill fated mosquito was smashed on the page. After a unanimous vote the name became "Mosquito".

As early as 1839 Thomas Farnham and his group of explorers crossed Mosquito Pass with the help of a local blacksmith named Kelly. In 1861 a mining camp named Mosquito started on the east side of the pass. The Fairplay and California Gulch Wagon Road Company was incorporated on July 10, 1865 to operate from Fairplay, CO. to California Gulch near Leadville, CO. crossing Mosquito Pass. In 1870 H.A.W. Tabor and Augusta Tabor crossed the pass on horseback before a road had been established. In the early 1870 a wagon road had been built across the pass to support the silver rush. In 1873 the Hayden Survey crossed the pass and found it well used but still very rough. During this time when the rush was on to get to the silver mines in Leadville many poorly prepared miners died while crossing the pass on foot giving it the nick name of "a highway of frozen death".

In 1878 a telegraph line had been laid across the pass. This helped travelers when snows were heavey as they could follow the poles. On October 8, 1878 the Mosquito Pass Wagon Road Company was incorporated. They built the first good road over this 13,185 foot pass in 1879. From 1879 to 1880 four major stage and freight lines operated over Mosquito Pass on this road. When the railroad reached Leadville by coming up the Arkansas River Valley from Buena Vista, Mosquito Pass lost its importance and fell into disuse. Also in 1882 a rail line was put in to the London Mine to carry ore out of the valley. There was talk of a tunnel but it never happened. In 1889 a telephone line was run across the pass.
Leadville in 1900s
photo by: H.H. Buckwalter

Over time the pass road was not maintained and it was abandoned in 1910. The tunnel idea came up again in 1930. Today Leadville and Fairplay host a "Get your Ass over the Pass" event where people compete to cross the pass with a pack mule in the fastest time. This began in 1949.

Helmuth, Ed and Gloria. The Passes of Colorado Boulder, Colorado: Pruett, 1994. Print.
Description:
Mosquito Pass is a Park County (Cnty 12) and Lake County (Cnty 3) road that crosses between Fairplay and Leadville, CO. It divides Mosquito Creek and Evans Gulch. It is the highes vehicle crossable pass in Colorado. From the Fairplay side (east) County Road 12 is a good two lane graded gravel road that passes through Park City and follows Mosquito Creek to the remains of the North London Mill.

North London Mine Mill 2012

photo by:
Adam M


North London Mine Mill 2003

photo by:
Adam M


North London Mine Mill 1988

photo by:
Adam M


North London Mine Mill 1988

photo by:
Adam M


Tram towers from North London Mine to the Mill 1988 (gone)

photo by:
Adam Mehlberg


North London Mine Mill 2012

photo by:
Adam M

There is a short road to the mill. Where County Road 12 crosses Mosquito Creek the road condition changes to a rougher and steeper road. The width is still wide enough for two vehicles to pass.

Mosquito Pass road

photo by:
Larry M

Before you get to the North London Mine there is a short loop road that takes you to Oliver Twist Lake. This road is a two track that winds through the rock hills to the side of Oliver Twist Lake.

Oliver Twist Lake

photo by:
Larry M

Just past the lake the road will reconnect with County Road 12 just below the North London Mine.

North London Mine

photo by:
Adam M


North London Mine

photo by:
Adam M


Motor remains

photo by:
Adam M

The remains of the North London Mine arial tram station are on the side of the tailing pile. Inside are the ore shoots and a few components of the tram line loading station. On the hill below the the tram building are three of the tram towers that supported the tram line down to the mill. The mine entrance is against the mountain with the remains of an Ingersol Rand dual piston steam engine.

From the mine Mosquito Pass road narrows and climbs to a saddle between London Mountain and Mosquito Peak before heading to Mosquito Pass. You will pass a left turn that takes you down to Americain Flats where the American Mine and South London Mine are. There is a sign that indicates a locked gate below. At the top of the pass is a sign with information on Mosquito Pass. There is also a marker for Father Dyer.

Father Dyer marker in 2003

photo by:
Adam M

There are roads off of the pass that go to radio facilities. Continue west down toward Evans Gulch.

Mosquito Pass looking west

photo by:
Larry M

The west side of Mosquito Pass is a ledge road with four switchbacks that drop you down to Evans Gulch. Along the bottom of the valley you will pass Mountain Lake, Diamond Lake and Conley Lakes. The ledge road is wide enough for vehicles to pass in most places. After the switchbacks the road will become two lanes wide with some rough sections. Near the Diamond Mine you will cross Evans Creek and then tie into the network of county roads that access the old mines east of Leadville. Stay on County Rd 3 going west down Evans Gulch ot reach Leadville.

Data updated - April 22, 2017       4WD Road driven - September 1, 2012       Copyright 4X4Explore.com - 2000-2017