COBDR: Ophir Pass Rock Slide

Jul 31st, 2018

Ophir pass

Ophir Pass just beyond Telluride has become more difficult to travel due to several rock slides. The road has been cleared but the rock is deep and loose on along the road.  What use to have some hard pack single track to negotiate is now all rock.  The route is still doable for those who have experience in this type of rock, but difficult on larger bikes.  Caution should be taken when traveling this section.

KTR Slide Ophir

Photo by Rob O’Dea

This was sent in by BDR Ambassador, Rick Benson….


Just tried to do Section 2 of COBDR yesterday at Ophir Pass and thought you might find this information useful.

There is a rock slide area about a mile and a half up the west side of the pass that is very difficult to negotiate, very difficult, see attached photo. Yesterday an attempt was made to make it over the pass with two other riders and we had to abort the attempt because of the difficulty and for safety reasons. As recently as a year ago the large rock slide area was much less rocky with a negotiable single track. There must have been a recent slide up there and either the county or forest service just bull dozed the rocks level to try to keep the pass open.  

I made the first attempt to get through the slide area on my KTM 1290 adventure bike by slipping the clutch and paddling with my feet. I got about 50 feet when the rear wheel dug down into the roadway rocks and stalled.  By rocking the bike and feathering the clutch another 50 feet was conquered.  The rear wheel this time buried the bike up to the skid plate. Unable to extract it my two friends hiked up to me and my motorcycle to extract it. By this time we were holding up four four-wheel drive vehicles, two trying to go up, and two trying to come down. We got my motorcycle back to the beginning of the slide area and moved it to the side of the road.  We then moved my friends two BMW R1200GS motorcycles off to the side to create a path for the four-wheel drive vehicles to pass.  All four made it by us with only about a foot to spare.

The four-wheel drive vehicles had to negotiate this rock slide section at walking speed and one even had grip and clearance issues. The safety concern for adventure riders on heavy adventure bikes is the slide area is very narrow and if a rider were to attempt it with any speed to keep up momentum there is the chance that the bike’s front wheel could hit a large, loose rock directing the motorcycle and rider over the edge. The bottom of the slide is probably 300 feet below the road. This would result in the loss of the motorcycle and serious injury or death to the rider.  

The rock slides continue for a least a mile so it would be a long strenuous event if anyone decided to do it despite the exertion and safety. We did pass two motorcycles coming the opposite direction but they were light 250 cc or slightly larger motorcycles. Coming down the pass from east to west would probably be feasible on big adventure bikes but it would still be challenging.

Rock hand

Photo by Rob O’Dea

If you wish to avoid Ophir Pass, then take Hwy 145 to Hwy 62 which goes to Ridgeway.  You may then take Hwy 550 to Ouray to pick up the route again.  This is a beautiful highway ride and one that won’t dissapoint.  If you wish to do more dirt on this detour, then take the Last Dollar Road from Telluride to Ridgeway. Click here for gpx file of Last Dollar Road