Paso de San Francisco is an international high mountain pass, at an elevation of 4.760m (15,616ft) linking the Argentine province of Catamarca with the Atacama Region of Chile. It's one of the highest mountain roads of Argentina.
This is one of the most important passes of the Andes mountains connecting Argentina and Chile. The area is surrounded by volcanoes, high peaks, salt flats and lagoons. High winds blow here all year long. Remember this is is a mountainous area, climbing up a high mountain, with a notorius absence of oxygen. The drive offers stunning views of many peaks as Cerro Falso Azufre (5.906 masl), the volcano San Francisco (6.018masl), the Incahuasi (6.638masl) and the highest volcano in the world, Nevado Ojos del Salado (6.879masl), among others.
On the Argentinian side, the road is totally paved. It’s called Route N 60 (RN60). Starting from Fiambala, the road to the pass is 201 km (124.89 mile) long. It’s pretty steep and winding. Located to the west of Catamarca, the road joins several Argentinean towns.
On the Chilean side, the road to the pass was totally paved in 2019. It’s called Route CH-31. Starting from Copiapó, the road to the pass is 280 km (173.98 mile) long. On the way to the summit, the road passes next to Maricunga's salt flat on the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park and Laguna Verde.
Pic: Guillermo Moré