Travel Advisory: Ophir Pass

Ophir Pass is located at 11,114 feet near Telluride, Colorado, and is officially known as Forest Service Road #630. It is one of the easiest of the high alpine trails to navigate in the San Juan Mountains, but can still provide a challenge when inclement weather is present, particularly on the western/Ophir downhill side.

The pass and road are typically only open during the summer and run between State Highway 145 near Telluride and Highway 550 near Silverton and Ouray. Snow can be present year-round, and afternoon thunder storms are often. The summit provides access to the Columbine Lakes area, north and south Lookout Peaks, Crystal Lake, and views of Lizard Head, The Ophir Needles, and three fourteeners: Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak and El Diente.

The road originally was a means of connecting the Old Ophir mining town to the rest of Colorado. In 1890, the Ames Hydroelectric Generating plant was constructed and was the world’s first commercial system to produce and transmit alternating current electricity for industrial use. It was operational in 1891 and was built by Westinghouse Electric under the direction of Nikola Tesla. The facility was set up in the valley as a generator and driven by water. It was connected by a 2.6-mile transmission line over Ophir Pass to the second alternator used as a motor up at the Gold King Mine.

Ophir Pass is often done together with Black Bear Pass or Tomboy-Imogene pass as a loop through Telluride and Ophir. The eastern side of the pass features a number of pull-offs for camping and mountain bike trail access throughout.

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