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Climbing to 11,789 feet and passing through both the Uncompahgre National Forest and the San Juan National Forest, Ophir Pass is a spectacular mountain pass that offers alpine views of the upper Ophir Valley and neighboring peaks. This pass has been traversed for hundreds of years for many different reasons. The pass was originally used by the Navajo on hunting trips between the San Miguel and Animas Valleys. In 1878, the tiny mining town of Ophir was established, and by 1881 the new Ophir Pass Toll Road began to carry goods between early mountain settlements. The arrival of the railroad decreased the use of the pass in the early 1890s, and the road became a rarely used wagon road. Finally, in 1953, the modern Ophir Pass that we know today was first opened to Jeeps and other off-road vehicles. While the shelf roads may test your fortitude, the views off of this iconic trail are well worth an afternoon. For Jeep owners, this road is 1 of 6 trails in Colorado recognized as a Badge of Honor Trail. Don't forget to use the Badge of Honor app to check in and get a special badge showing trail completion.
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Ophir Pass is a high alpine 10-mile mountain pass from Highway 145 to Highway 550, connecting Ophir and Silverton. The pass is naturally closed by snowfall each year and plowed open by county road crews late each Spring. The road is bumpy, packed dirt that is well traveled as you leave the town of Ophir and begin ascending 2,000 vertical feet to the summit. There are several small stream crossings but no significant obstacles until you reach the treeline. The final push to the summit is extremely rocky and rough along a loose, narrow shelf road covered with tallus rock that can test the nerves. There are limited passing opportunities above the treeline on the west side, but visibility is very good. Once cresting the summit, the road widens and begins a gradual descent down a hard-packed dirt road. East of the summit, the road number changes as you travel into the San Juan National Forest. Since this trail is fairly easy on vehicles, any stock high-clearance vehicle with 4WD should easily get through in good conditions. Airing down will make your ride a bit smoother. Lingering snow, water, or bad weather can make this trail treacherous.
The only dispersed camping along the trail is near the eastern trailhead in several established dispersed sites. Camping is difficult along the rest of the trail due to terrain or private property. More dispersed camping options can be found on the east side along South Mineral. On the west side, Matterhorn Campground offers improved camping options. Both Telluride and Silverton offer traditional lodging.
From The traffic circle west of Telluride, head south on Highway 145, passing the Telluride Brewing Company and Mountain Village. Follow Highway 145 for 7 miles turning left on FSR 630 and following signs for the town of Ophir and Ophir Pass.
From Silverton, head northwest out of town on Highway 550. Travel for 4.2 miles along the highway, turning left on FSR 679 following signs for Ophir Pass.
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