While most of the world quarantined, I adventure; braving the pandemic, drive, and inaccessibility to food, to visit Colorado in June 2020. One trip led me to visit the beautiful Zapata Falls located in Mosca, Colorado.
Mosca, Colorado is located in Alamosa County in southern Colorado, roughly mid-state. It sits at an elevation of 7,559′ above sea level. For comparison, Denver, the mile-high city, is situated at 5,280′.
You will find little in the way of entertainment in this sleepy Rocky mountain pass, but you will discover nature opportunities galore. The main attraction is the Great Sand Dunes National Park, located on Highway 150.
It is worth stopping three miles south of the entrance to the National Park for this family-friendly hike up to Zapata Falls. The hardest part about this excursion is not the hike itself but the car ride to get there. Once leaving the main road, there is a 3.5-mile brutal, gravel pitted car ride to reach the parking lot and trailhead. We found ample parking and restrooms available. Both the hike and parking are free.
The hike itself is a .8-mile one-way hike, made up of flat dirt with some rocky terrain and an exquisite view of the San Luis Valley and the Great Sand Dunes. Surprisingly, the trail was full of people. As we neared the end, the roar of the waterfall grew louder. We kept trekking through ankle and knee-deep water. Crawling over, on top, and around slippery rocks and crowds of people. We finally reached the crevice of the mountain and were able to peer into the gorge to see the beauty of the falls.
Tip: Take water shoes and prepare to get wet. The water depth depends on the weather and time of year – it may even be frozen!
Lodging: There are a few lodging options near the falls. You can find mid-range hotels in Alamosa, Colorado located 45 min from the park. Camping is also an option. There is a small state-owned campground at the falls that offers 23 primitive sites at an extremely affordable rate plus a couple other nearby campgrounds.
• NPS-Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.
• USFS-Rio Grande National Forest and Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.
• BLM-Blanca Wetlands Recreation Area.
• USFWS-Baca and Alamosa National Wildlife Refuges.
• Great Sand Dunes Oasis-Restaurant, gift shop, and lodge (near GRSA Park entrance).
• Ft. Garland Museum and Cultural Center.
• Colorado Gators Reptile Park.
• UFO Watchtower.
• Sand Dunes Hot Springs Pool.
Other Nearby Campgrounds: Pinyon Flats CG, Great Sand Dunes NPP
Enjoy your trip to Mosca, Colorado and Zapata Falls!