Ophir Pass Road (FR 679)
This seasonal 4×4 road is a good introduction to the multitude of jeep trails in the San Juan mountains, and is not too hard to drive if you know what you’re doing. The western side of the pass is far worse than the eastern side, and should not be attempted without a high-clearance vehicle. The drive up to the pass goes through thick forest; in the spruce-fir, mountain meadows and willow carrs look for Pine Grosbeak, Olive-sided and Hammond’s Flycatchers, and Fox and Lincoln’s Sparrows in addition to other typical birds. Park farther up the road and hike some of the tundra to look for ptarmigan, although the best habitat is far from the road. Near the pass itself you get into loose talus slopes where you should not go hiking unless you are an elk–which is a species you should keep an eye out for. Bighorn sheep, pika and yellow-bellied marmots also can be found here, along with many alpine butterflies including Mead’s Sulphur.
County: San Juan
Habitat: Spruce-Fir Forest, Mountain Meadow, Streamside Willow, Krummholz, Alpine Tundra
Directions: From Silverton, head north on US 550 about five miles to the turnoff on the left (west) side of the road.
Delorme: 76 B3-B4
Roads of Colorado: 131 D1
Dates of Access: Warmer months
Ownership: US Forest Service
Restrictions: Upper portions of the road restricted to 4x4 vehicles
Lodging: Primitive camping
Handicapped Access: None