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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Ophir Pass Road #630, CO

no permit
172 8 1
Guide 8 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List CO > West
5 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance One Way 10 miles
Trailhead Elevation 10,084 feet
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Seasonal Creek & Peak
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
10  2018-07-23
Alta Lakes and Ghost Town
6  2018-07-21 Stoic
14  2018-07-21
Crystal Lake at Ophir Pass
34  2014-09-25
Ophir to Silverton & Beyond
96  2013-09-27
Colorado Fall Colours 2013
70  2012-07-26
Colorado Tales 2012
38  2007-06-24
San Juan Mountains 2007
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep
Sun  5:59am - 6:07pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Likely In-Season!
The Ophir Pass Road has the reputation of being one of the easiest of the high trails in the San Juans. It was originally established as a wagon road between the mines around Ophir and Telluride to Silverton. With the completion of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad in 1890, the need for the road decreased, but it continued to be used as a time saving route for light wagon traffic. The road does not present any technical difficulty for the careful driver, and can be driven in good weather conditions during late summer by high clearance two wheel drive vehicles. That being said, it can still cause the unwary or foolish to regret ever heading up it.

The road begins about 5 miles south of Red Mountain Pass and approximately the same distance north of Silverton on US 550. A sign on the west side of 550 marks the location of the start of the Ophir Pass Road. The trip west is a rather gradual grade and there is room almost everywhere for two vehicles to pass. The trail winds through forested land in the Middle Mineral Creek area until it reaches the tree line and continues to the rocky summit at 11,789 feet. When the road is plowed open in June it is not unusual to find walls of snow up to 20 feet high at the summit.

The summit of the pass is formed by Lookout Peak on the north and South Lookout Peak on the south. On a clear day, the view west from the summit is spectacular. The valley to the west is formed by the Howard Fork of the San Miguel River. Past the valley the distinctive volcanic peak of Lizard Head, and three fourteeners can be seen, Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak and El Diente. The Ophir Needles can be seen at the far end of the north ridge of the valley.

The road descending into the valley is a long shelf road on talus. There is one switchback shortly below the summit followed by a continuous run down the side of the slope. This section has been widened considerably in recent years, but it is still narrow and very rocky in spots. Proper caution is required on this section. I understand there is a car at the bottom of the mountainside part way down the trail. I couldn't tell you. I watch the road through here.

A professional driver for one of the Jeep rental agencies in Ouray related the following story to me a few days after it happened in mid-September 1996:
"I took a group up the west side of Ophir last week a day after we had those few inches of snow. It was a beautiful day and everyone was enjoying the ride. The east side was mostly clear of snow and just a little wet. As I came down the west side I realized the road was solid ice. The sun had gotten to the snow above and melted it, but not to the trail. I couldn't even let the Jeep idle down in first gear low. I had to work the brakes every inch. One of the passengers asked if it would make it easier if they got out and lightened the load. I told them if I could get out and lighten the load with them, I would! I crept that thing over a mile down the road, working the brakes and clutch a foot or two at a time with my right hand on the wheel and my left hand holding the driver's door open just in case and those folks walking behind me. I've never been scared like that in all my years of driving out here."

At the foot of Ophir pass is the town of Old Ophir. Some summer homes have recently been constructed here. A large number of mines were located on the mountainsides above Old Ophir. Virtually all remains have been wiped out by the weather and avalanches which abound in this area.

Beyond Old Ophir at the intersection of Colorado 145 is the site of the town of Ophir. This was the location of the legendary Ophir Loop on the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. The state highway has been improved over the years since the demise of the RGS, and only the remains of one building, The Oilton Club bar and restaurant is still evident at the site of Ophir. Take some time at this location to look down from the highway at the remains of the big curving Ophir trestle Bridge # 45-A.

A right turn (north) will lead to Telluride and Ridgway on Colorado 145. Turning south will lead to Trout Lake and Lizard Head Pass.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your 4x4 trip to support this local community.

2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    Uncompahgre FS Details
    Forest Road #630 (Ophir Pass Road) is an OHV route that provides a connection between U.S. Highway 550 north of Silverton, CO. to the historic mining town of Ophir. The road traverses over 11,814 foot Ophir Pass, offering alpine views of the upper Ophir Valley and neighboring peaks. It is generally an easy 4-wheel drive road, but is rated as moderate difficulty due to a narrow one-half mile section (on the Ophir side of the Pass) where it is difficult for two vehicles to pass each other. (Uphill traffic should yield to downhill traffic on this section). This road is often driven in combination with either the Black Bear Pass Road or the Tomboy - Imogene (Imogene Pass) roads to form a long loop drive/ride.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Ophir Pass Road #630
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Colorado Fall Colours 2013
    Colorado Fall Colours - September 2013


    For those that know me, I’m in the habit of booking a quarterly “wilderness adventure” months in advance so I can work my schedule around the dates.

    Q1-2013 was the “Salt River Canyon Wilderness Trek” (check out )
    Q2-2013 was the “Colorado San Juan Mountains Trek” (check out )
    Q3-2013 was the “Himalayan CardioRenal Screening Project & Trek” (check out ) – still have photos from Stok Kangri Trek, Delhi, and Agra to post!

    The plan was to also add a “Colorado Fall Colours” trek in Q3 using last year (check out ) for timing guidance…

    Thursday 9/26
    Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hrs 22 minutes to travel 455 miles from Ahwatukee to Danzl Cottage on Dolores River via Tuba City.
    Any time gained leaving work at a decent time and getting on the road before 4pm was lost waiting an hour trying to climb up I-17 to sunset point (major accident closed the highway until it was cleared).
    Burg in Flagstaff and on the Rez by 7pm where we were greeted by a steady rain all the way to the cottage on the Dolores River between Dolores and Telluride.
    Rain on the cottage roof made for a soothing song to put us to sleep after the long drive from the Valley to the San Juan Mountains.
    FITBIT data; 4.46 miles, 36 floors

    Friday 9/27
    I had Disappointment Valley on my radar as a nearby location known for wild horses – this isn’t a political statement, but check out BLM Disappointment Valley/Spring Creek Basin ( ) and the musical celebrity laden movie on Disappointment Valley wild horses (Watch the 12 minute “Wild Horses & Renegades” video trailer at :next: and ). Abort near Spring Creek Basin due to excessive mud! snow! and threatening rain/sleet/snow clouds...
    Afternoon take West Dolores Loop for fall colours - turned out to be winter snow scene loop!
    $4.64 per gallon gas in Rico - Yikes!
    BBQ a couple of New York strip steaks back at Danzl Cottage FITBIT data; 6.21 miles, 19 floors (10 ft/floor)

    Saturday 9/28
    Plan to redux Dallas Divide, Double RL Ranch hay rolls, and onto CR7 for beaver dams and Blue Lake Trail hike. If time permits, sundown at Woods Lake.
    FROSTY morning - 28 deg F according to my truck (failed to get photo evidence)
    Actually start with awesome coffee in Rico at the little shack on east side of town - blows Starbucks away with a $2 cup.
    Stop at Lizard Head Pass for photo op.
    Stop at Sunshine scenic overlook on SR145. Aspen on Wilson Peak are still green - major let down :( :( :(
    Take Lynn to Ophir - get some colours :) :) :)
    Gas up in Teluride - Chrissy photo op by the Minersaur!
    Stop at Last Dollar Road off of SR62 - plenty of photo ops, but too much traffic to my liking :( :( :(
    Dallas Divide - still too early for optimum colours.
    CR#9 and a Double R L Ranch - score! Plenty of hay rolls at southern most field. Combine and tractor pick up in action...
    Off to CR#7 - an old reliable that's never failed to please.
    Stop at Jason Hatfield's pond for photo recreation
    Stop at beaver meadow for another photo recreation and lunch
    Hike Blue Lakes Trail
    Back to hay rolls on Double R L Ranch to catch long shadows
    Telluride elk (are these employed by the Chamber of Commerce - they're always at this spot at sunset)
    BBQ some chicken back at the cottage
    FITBIT data; 7.82 miles, 79 floors

    Sunday 9/29
    Plan to get to Alta Lakes and Ghost Town plus Lost Dollar Road and Woods Lake redux. Maybe check out Silver Pick Road...
    Start the day with another cup of awesome coffee in Rico from the "High Ground Coffee Shack". Find out the coffee beans are from Ibis in Utah - will have to check this out - they're that good...
    On to Alta Ghost Town and then Alta Lakes - amazing number of trout visible in Alta Lake - and friendly ducks agreeable to Skippy...
    Check out Mountain Village above Telluride
    On to Woods Lake via Fall Creek Road - disappointing fall colours :( :( :(
    Return via Elk Creek Road onto Wilson Mesa and loop back via Silver Pick Road - Awesome view on Hughes Road - marked this one with geocoded iPhone photo.
    Ilium to Ophir Loop and back to Danzl Cottage
    BBQ some split cheese dogs...
    FITBIT data; 8.16 miles, 63 floors

    Monday 9/30
    Getaway day, close up the cottage per Danzl winterizing instructions.
    Route plan per Google Maps indicates 7 hours 58 minutes to travel 508 miles from Danzl Cottage on the Dolores River to Ahwatukee via Gallup NM.
    FITBIT data; 5.09 miles, 27 floors

    211 photos on Canon 7D
    323 photos on Canon Rebel XT
    53 photos on iPhone 4S
    587 total photos to sort thru when I get the chance...
    963 miles return Ahwatukee to San Juan Mountains
    Prelude to fall colours (not the peak we were planning/hoping for…)
    Unexpected winter scenes more than compensate!
    28 degF frosty mornings
    Awesome coffee warm-up from High Ground Coffee Shack in Rico CO each morning :next: ... 4149051267
    31.74 miles on FITBIT
    2240 elevation gain (224 floors on FITBIT)

    Sent from my iPad
    Ophir Pass Road #630
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Colorado Tales 2012
    Colorado Tales 2012

    5 days
    1296 miles
    65 gallons of gasoline
    379 digital images
    1 relatively trouble-free drive
    Clean, crisp mountain air
    Vintage railways
    Ghost towns
    Choice eats and beverages (Colorado microbreweries!)
    No work distractions

    The Plan => Thursday 7/26 rendezvous at the Danzl residence in Sedona AZ, truck pool, and hit the road to the Danzl Colorado Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Stoner CO in the San Juan Mountains.

    My 2012 quarterly wilderness adventures have been limited to "Anza Borrego California Tales 2012" (check out => ) and "Oregon Tales 2012" (check out => ), so with X consecutive days of 100degF Valley weather, a trek to the high country seemed in order. The Colorado Rockies would certainly satisfy that requirement, so my Coyotes' season ticket co-holder, Ralph Danzl suggested his Colorado Cottage as a base camp to escape the heat. With no definitive plans, other than our base camp, we hit the road and ended up at the following destinations;

    A. Ahwatukee AZ - ground zero, home
    B. Sedona AZ - rendezvous at Danzl's Bell Rock Blvd. residence
    C. Kayenta AZ - stop at the local Burger King
    D. Monument Valley AZ/UT - first visit for the Danzl's (check out => and ... e-map.html )
    E. Bluff UT - stop for gas
    F. Hovenweep Ruins UT - also "Canyon of the Ancients" including Painted Hand and Lowry Pueblo (check out => )
    G. Dolores CO - base camp at Danzl Colorado Cottage off Hwy 145 on Road 37 (CR36 on map)
    H. Ophir Pass CO - off-roading with side treks to Crystal Lake and Lookout Peak (check out => )
    I. Silverton CO - Silverton Brewery for eats (check out => )
    J. Animas Forks CO - off-roading to ghost town (check out => ... as%20Forks and )
    K. Durango CO - a drive on the "Million Dollar Highway" (check out => )
    L. Dolores CO - Dolores River Brewery for eats (check out => ) and base camp at Danzl Colorado Cottage
    M. Dunton CO - along FR535 and West Dolores River valley trekking to Lizard Head Wilderness (check out => ... wilderness )
    N. Telluride CO - Smuggler Joe's MicroBrew for eats (check out => ... mmary.aspx and )
    O. Rico CO - ghost town (check out => )
    P. Taylor Mesa CO - wildlife spotting along FR545
    Q. Dolores CO - supplies and Galloping Goose Museum (check out => ) plus base camp at Danzl Colorado Cottage
    R. Mesa Verde CO - for future reference (check out => )
    S. Tuba City AZ - pit stop on the road home
    T. Sedona AZ - collect my wheels at the Danzl residence
    U. Ahwatukee AZ - home again...

    DAY 1 - Thursday 7/26
    Ahwatukee AZ to Sedona AZ
    129 miles
    2 hrs 19 min 1-way per Google Maps

    Rendezvous at the Danzl residence off Bell Rock Blvd and hit the road early morning for the Colorado mountains....

    DAY 2 - Friday 7/27
    Sedona AZ to Dolores CO via Monument Valley and Hovenweep Ruins
    341 miles
    7 hrs 17 min per Google Maps

    On the road to Danzl's Colorado Cottage along the Dolores River between Dolores CO and Stoner CO with stops at Monument Valley and Hovenweep Ruins. Exited Monument Valley just as a deluge hit. With a side trip into uncharted territory (that would be Hovenweep UT, check out => ), we discover "Canyon of the Ancients" and signage for some vaguely familiar ruins (Cutthroat Castle, Painted Hand Pueblo, Lowry Pueblo, etc). I'm filing this for a future trek (check out => ... rMap-2.pdf and ). Our plans to pick up supplies in Dolores CO are thwarted by the time zone change as we arrive into town at 8pm local time only to discover all the grocery stores closed! Good thing we have some ground beef in the cooler and we're able to pick-up some buns at the local gas station. We arrive at the Danzl Cottage in a light rain. Ralph gets the water turned on while Brian and I get the old-school BBQ fired up with briquettes and mesquite chips. Burgs and beverages to put a bookend on the day...

    DAY 3 - Saturday 7/28
    Dolores CO to Ophir Pass to Animas Forks and Durango CO return
    188 miles
    5 hrs 21 min per Google Maps

    Into the really high country with side treks to Crystal Lake and Lookout Peak near the crest of Ophir Pass. On to Silverton where we caught the narrow gauge railroad (check out => ) waiting to take on passengers. 4WD trekking up to Animas Forks checking out all the mining relics and ghost towns along the way. I regret not climbing up to higher vantage to snap an image of the entire Animas Forks ghost town complex - next time! Refreshments at the Silverton Brewery and off along the Million Dollar Highway to Durango CO. In Durango, we pick up steaks, fresh picked corn-on-the-cob, mushrooms, onions, etc. for an evening feast back at Danzl Cottage. Interesting light show back at the cottage as a summer monsoon rumbles through the Dolores Valley...

    DAY 4 - Sunday 7/29
    Dolores CO to Lizard Head Wilderness to Telluride CO to Taylor Mesa return
    153 miles
    4 hrs 53 min per Google Maps

    More high country trekking checking out beaver dams along FR535 and the West Dolores River plus a leg stretcher into the Lizard Head Wilderness. Refreshments at Telluride Brewing Company and Smuggler Joes' Brew Pub in Telluride. Up to the Bridal Falls overlook and on the road towards Rico ghost town and primo wildlife spotting on Taylor Mesa. Plenty of elk and deer spotted. No bears - disappointment since Ralph indicated he's seen bear here every time he's visited. Back at Danzl Cottage for another summer monsoon light show and time to fire up the BBQ for some choice tube steaks...

    DAY 5 - Monday 7/30
    Dolores CO to Mesa Verde CO to Tuba City AZ to Sedona AZ to Ahwatukee AZ
    461 miles
    8 hrs, 21 min per Google Maps

    A chance to check out the Galloping Goose and Dolores River Brewing Company before hitting road for home. Conversation along the road included setting a time for a return visit with fall colours being the choice excuse. Maybe a last week in September, first week in October future trek (check out => ) may be in the cards...

    And that's my Colorado Tale 2012!

    Permit $$
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    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To 4x4 trip
    From Silverton, travel approximately 4.2 miles north on State Highway 550, turning left (west) on County Road 8 (signed as the Ophir Pass Road and Forest Road #679).
    page created by Randal_Schulhauser on Aug 05 2012 5:36 pm
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