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Ophir Pass: Nearest Towns:  Silverton & Telluride Difficulty Rating:  Easy / Moderate End Points:  Start:  Hwy 550 37.8475,-107.7248 End:  Hwy 145 37.8620,-107.8701 Estimated Open Season:  June to October Estimated Miles:  10 miles one-way Estimated Drive Time:  2 hours one-way Ophir Pass If you are looking for an off-road excursion that is beautiful, fairly easy and very historically significant, Ophir Pass could be the right trail to choose. Located about fifty miles North of Durango on highway 550 Ophir Pass (Forest Service Road #630) (County Road 8) is a well marked dirt road that starts on the west side of the highway. Our interactive map can provide detailed directions by clicking on the trailhead icon, selecting "Directions" and following the instructions. Ophir can be completed from either the highway 550 (Silverton) side or the highway 145 (Telluride) side and is part of a very popular loop when combined with Black Bear Pass or Imogene Pass. Black Bear road begins near the summit of Red Mountain Pass and is a one way only into Telluride so many people like to return to highway 550 near Silverton by taking the Ophir Pass road. This loop is absolutely amazing in the fall when the Aspen Trees are changing (September - October) Ophir by itself is a great spot to view the trees if Black Bear is out of your league.  The pass is only about 10 miles one way which is quite a shortcut if you think of how far it is to drive all the way around the San Juan's by highway but it still takes about two hours to get from one side to the other. Give yourself a little longer if you like to linger and take pictures. From either side (east or west); Ophir Pass is rated as "easy" for the first few miles and "moderate" to the 11,814 foot summit. This road might be a good choice for people that are just beginning to experience off-roading for themselves as it is one of the "more tame" trails. Stock OHV's should not have much trouble if the driver takes care. The toughest part is just before the summit coming from either side where the road gets fairly steep and rocky with a couple of minor switchbacks. This is what gives it the moderate rating and drivers still need to be careful and use good judgment. The west side (hwy 145) will take you through the City of Ophir where you will be directed by signs to the main trail. PLEASE be respectful of residents and drive slowly and keep disturbances to a minimum. (Engine noise, stereo, dust etc.) A little bit about the history and the significance of the Ophir Pass area.  Ophir and Ames Colorado were once mining boom towns in the 1800's, very similar to many others that were popping up all over the San Juan's. What makes them special is how they were involved with the "War of the Currents". During the same era as the mining boom electricity was in its early stages of development and was becoming a very popular source of energy to drive industrial machinery like mines and mills. Thomas Edison with his patents and George Westinghouse with patents from Nikola Tesla were bitter rivals with each other in trying to convince people which type of electrical current was better. Thomas Edison supported his DC (Direct Current) products while George Westinghouse was proving his AC (Alternating Current) at the same time. Because of the limitations of DC current being able to carry over long distances, AC (alternating current) was chosen and the world's very first industrial AC power plant was born. This hydroelectric plant was used to power the nearby Gold King Mine and continues to provide electricity to the community to this day! Ophir Pass is also a good place for hikers to get out and explore. Crystal Lake is very close to the summit which is a short climb to the south and our interactive map can provide a good overhead view. It takes the average hiker approximately forty five minutes to reach the lake and it is well worth the effort. Camping spots are available (primitive camping) near the road and off chutes and it is advisable to utilize locations already used to reduce impact. Be sure to check the forest service website for fire bans and information before heading out on a camping trip. When to visit the area? The open season for Ophir Pass can vary depending on how much snow the high country gets but you can generally drive over the summit by late May or early June. The top of the pass may have snow all year round (usually gets plowed through) and makes for a fun spot to stop and have a summertime snowball fight! Whether you are doing a loop to Telluride and back or just taking your 4x4 out to look at the San Juan scenery Ophir Pass is a real winner.

View 4x4 Ophir Pass in a larger map
Ophir City circa 1895
l Ames Hydroelectric Plant