Friday, September 11, 2015

The Ophir Pass, From Silverton to Telluride

Our research for interesting roads to explore in the Durango area lead us to the
Ophir Pass between Silverton and Telluride.  It's a scenic, 10 mile unimproved road over a portion of the Suan Juan Mountain Range.
On our way to Silverton, on HWY 550, we just had to stop and enjoy the DSNGRR one more time.
Today, the sky was a perfect blue.  Once we got to Molas Pass which is 10910 feet, the views of the mountain ranges became memorable.  We have been here a few times and this view was THE best yet.
This time someone asked if they could take our picture.
As we climbed in altitude traveling towards Silverton, we noticed that the aspen leaves are beginning to change.  It's been 42 degrees many mornings at our campsite in Ignacio, 6654 ft. This year, peak leaf season in Silverton is predicted to be the first of October.
Entrance to the Ophir Pass is by a Forest Service Road.
The pass begins in spectacular fashion.  Scenic vistas all around and a cloudless blue sky.
 Ronnie has to stop multiple times for me to get photos.  I see the perfect landscape composition everywhere I look.

Soon, the landscape begins to change as we gain altitude.  We are above the tree line now.

Ophir Pass: 11789 feet above Sea Level (I rename it O-Fear Pass)
Once we travel over the pass, this mountain range comes into to our view.
We decide to pull off to the side of the dirt/rocky road to enjoy our picnic lunch..with this view out the Jeep's front windshield.
This section of the Ophir Pass is the most narrowest. Uphill travelers have the right of way.
Again, Ronnie has to stop so I can take more photos.  Excellent opportunities to capture scenes we have never experienced before.

We successfully traveled down that narrow section of road.  We did met 3 other Jeeps and all were able to navigate the road and carefully pass with care.
The tiny community, seen in the valley, is Ophir.  The Ophir Pass is a historic mining road/path built around 1875.  Pack mules and wagons were used to transport the silver ore back over this pass to Silverton.
 We have just traveled this narrow shelf road.  Humm... we think this road was a bit more adventurous than The Shelf Road to Cripple Creek.
Our view of the Ophir Pass from the community of Ophir.  Notice there are no switchbacks on the mountain side.  All you see is a diagonal line for the road.
The Ophir Pass comes out onto Hwy 149.  We turned west towards the township of Telluride.
Again, more scenic views along Hwy 149.
We briefly visited Telluride in 2005.  We remembered the interesting shops, art galleries and the ski resort.

Telluride is a colorful town with lots of flowers and historic store facades.  It's history is also deeply rooted in mining.
which can be found at the cliff end of the box canyon.
The dirt trail to the falls and historic building can be seen in the center of this photo.  Look for the zigzag line, which are switchbacks.
We couldn't go up to the falls on our last visit because we were traveling in a full sized dually truck.  This trip, we have our Jeep so Ron says lets try it.
Our views of the historical structure get better and better but photos are difficult because of the sun's direction.  The water flow of Bridal Veil Falls is a bit puny because it's late summer season.
Once we reach the end of the dirt path/switchbacks, the views of the historic power plant .....
...and the town of Telluride in the valley below, are amazing.
I do not venture too close to the edge of the road either.

Whew, we have really enjoyed ourselves.
We are mighty thirsty after all this Jeep riding and sight seeing.  A cool drink at Telluride's High Pie is a nice ending to a picture-perfect day.
Telluride Brewing Company:  Russell Kelly's Pale Ale and Fishwater IPA
More later....

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