Engineer's Pass, Colorado

Discussion in 'The Rockies – It's all downhill from here...' started by stephenws, Dec 9, 2012.


    DADODIRT Long timer

    Jun 25, 2004
    Durango,CO(not quite Purgatory)
    Another option would be to rent a dirt bike in Silverton.
    Save the GS for the twisties.
  2. redninja

    redninja Will ride 4 scenery

    Dec 2, 2007
    LOVELY Ignacio, CO
    Take a look here:
    A real fun event, and there will be lots of people to ride with. We went this past summer, and had a blast.Don't panic when you see all the nasty roads in the pictures...there are nicer ones, too....
  3. MWadv

    MWadv Gravel Road Roamer

    Apr 15, 2007
    Rock River Vally
    US Weather Records indicate the 3rd and 4th weeks in July are the dryest. But remember there can be a cloud burst of rain in the mountains in late afternoon.
  4. little foot

    little foot Super Mediator

    Jul 21, 2008
    The Springs, Oklahoma
    I went up from Silverton and although i made it. it would have been better with a smaller bike. The reason for the big bike is i rode it from tulsa Oklahoma.
    As for the solo part, it was the best part.

  5. dman

    dman Been here awhile

    Sep 29, 2004
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Does anyone know, has the road gotten a lot rougher in the past 10-15 years? I ask because I drove over Engineer in a stock SUV with my then-4-and-6 year old kids, and just remember it as a dirt road. I'm sure I never used low range up or down, going from the Ouray side of 550 to Silverton. This was back in 1997. Later on the same trip I went over Poughkeepsie and that was pretty rough.

  6. TeneRay

    TeneRay Just glassin'

    Aug 16, 2009
    On Cinnamon. Probably the least nimble adv. bike. I'm also pretty novice when it comes to trails/dirt. Went over Ohpir afterwards. IMO, I would recommend traveling westward over the passes.

  7. JED

    JED Been here awhile

    Mar 2, 2004
    East Mo
    Don't know if any mentioned it but why not rent a jeep and go over first in the jeep so you can judge for yourself if you want to do the bike. Your not in Iowa anymore!
  8. KHVol

    KHVol Long timer

    May 21, 2004
    Ophir is the best first test, Ouray to Telliride direction. If Ophir was too much , don't try any of the others. After Ophir, Clear Lake isn't too difficult but very scenic. Last Dollar is a ride in the park and maybe should be listed first.
  9. on2wheels52

    on2wheels52 Long timer

    Jun 14, 2006
    northern Arkansas
    Has been nice reading everyone's report; it taxes my memory a bit to remember how I approached the hill. I believe I started at Lake City and ended in Silverton.
    Just down from the summit.


    fwiw, my off-road skill is maybe a 3 on a 10 scale. The worst section for me was a few pretty tight switchbacks. But I imagine the shape the road is in can vary from year (and month to month).
    I think you should go for it.
  10. EnderTheX

    EnderTheX Dirt Rider

    Mar 14, 2009
    DFW Area, TX
    Here is a tip I enjoy giving out because it's something we discovered with much joy.

    At certain times of the summer it will rain every day in that area... the trails, however, are quite accessible and there is little lack of traction. Most of the trails are embedded rock and the rain doesn't seem to cause much concern.

    Also, the storms only last a few minutes and then disappear... but one day I think we counted taking off and on our rain gear 7 times!!

    So if it is wet, don't be afraid to try it!
  11. Scott Baja

    Scott Baja el semental rojo

    May 27, 2010
    Missoula MT
    The best advice you have received so far, in my opinion, is being capable of picking your bike. I would practice with panniers on in your yard. You will soon get the knack of it. If on the trail, you can lesson the weight by removing some gear. If this is a dream of yours, dont deny yourself. Just my 2 cents.. :clap
  12. FreeHugger

    FreeHugger Been here awhile

    Sep 10, 2012
    Is this Heaven? No its Iowa.

    A group of friends and I are planning a trip to Moab the last week in May. Coincidentally we are also from Iowa. :freaky

    A portion of our trip will be from Boulder to Moab and I have set aside two days for this leg in hopes that we could camp near and travel over either Ophir or Cinnamon Pass on our way to Moab.

    This would be taking place on about May 20/21 and I have heard mixed reports as to whether those passes will be clear by those dates.

    Any advice on attempting either Ophir or Cinnamon during that time would be greatly appreciated. Of course we realize that a late season snow could drastically alter our plans and we can always audible to take some alternate scenic pavement but would prefer a more adventurous path.

    Also its important to note, our group rides "big traillies" (1200gs's and 650 KLR's) but we are pretty gritty and experienced.

    Thanks very much for any input.

  13. enduro-ince

    enduro-ince dirtslave

    Jul 14, 2004
    Placerville Co.
    This year Ophir might well be open by then...Heres is a great site to check for opening dates in the past..

    Looks like Ophir and Cinnamon were open by mid May last year. It was a rather dry year last year and this year seems drier than that so I'm guessing you'll be fine..
  14. FreeHugger

    FreeHugger Been here awhile

    Sep 10, 2012
    Is this Heaven? No its Iowa.
    Great, thank you for the link.

  15. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

    Nov 16, 2006
    Bowling Green, Ky
    The BMW off road training school ain't gonna help you on the passes you mentioned!!! It's a pretty basic class just enough to get your feet wet. I took the class at the performance school in SC, and while it did provide some good tips, if you are expecting to become proficient in rocks, sand, gravel, and hopping over stumps and stuff, you had better look elsewhere. Maybe the Rawhide adventure school.
  16. Supahflid

    Supahflid Wheelieless

    May 29, 2008
    Here for reals.
    I wouldn't be too scared of any of the passes except Black Bear; I did it on my 990 and I don't think I would do it again.

    If you have trouble making slow speed turns while modulating your clutch and picking lines through a switchback, you should practice that; IMHO, that's the most difficult part of any of those passes.

    Here are two ride reports that show all of the passes mentioned:

    Does Size Matter?

    Does Size Matter Part 2
  17. IronHeart

    IronHeart Adventurer

    Mar 8, 2011
    I have ridden and drove most of the passes in that area. While skill will play a big part, your comfort level should be the biggest indicator of whether or not to proceed. The highest pucker factor I had was on the Yankee Boy Basin road headed towards Ouray when my rear brakes failed. Riding down those narrow roads with only the front brake was not fun. :eek1

    But the views were amazing

  18. rufus

    rufus We're burning daylight...

    Sep 26, 2004
    Coweta Oklahoma
    From Lake City to the top of Engineer pass is easy. I saw a ford minivan go to the top this way. The other side , to hwy 550, is tougher. I wouldn't recommend that you do that side.

    Lake City to the top of cinnamon pass is fairly easy. A buddy of mine did it on his RT. But there is a long steep loose rocky downhill that goes into the ghost town of animas fork. Silverton to Animas fork is fairly easy. A few swithcbacks and a little bit of rocks here and there.

    Ophir pass is mostly easy. Rocky at the top and going toward Telluride for a little ways. Go slow and pick your way through.

    Imogene pass from ouray is moderate. The pic above is going up to Imogene. Imogene pass from Telluride has narrow steep swithcbacks with straight down drop offs.

    My definitely DON"T DO list for an inexperienced dirt rider is --
    Black Bear pass and Poughkeepsi gulch. Jeep rental places tell you to stay off these.
    Corkscrew gulch is steep and narrow and slick with drop offs. California Gulch is rocky towards the top. And when you get to the top you either go back, or go down poughkeepsi or corkscrew.

    An easy scenic ride is Last Dollar road. It goes north by the airport in Telluride. Scenes from True Grit were filmed there. When you hit the HWY turn right to ridegway. Just a little ways north is Owl Creek pass. Another easy scenic ride. More of True Grit was filmed through here.

    Almost anyplace that you walk into in that area will have good maps for sale. Trails Illustrated are some of the most detailed maps.

    The scenery in this area is incredible. Have fun and take lots of pictures.:D
  19. RideThereNow

    RideThereNow Fortunate One

    Sep 15, 2006
    You've already seen some good advice from other folks regarding this area. So take this for what it's worth, I know the area fairly well and would like to offer my two cents for what it's worth.

    Most of my neighbors ride 250cc and smaller bikes over these passes for regular day or weekend rides. Some of them are really, really, REALLY good riders, I can't stress that enough. Having said that, we do know a couple who have done Black Bear, Cinnimon, Engineer, Ophir and others passes TWO UP on a BMW R90S. They are still married, so I guess love conquers all (they were 30+ years younger when they did these rides and she did some walking and pushing.).

    My opinion is that you might do these passes on that big bike with limited experience but it would NOT be something to take lightly and would be more in line with going to prison, maybe evan a mexican prison.

    There is a world of great riding in CO and UT, and other western states that you would enjoy on a big bike and at the end be able to go home to enjoy family and friends.

    Ride Safe, Live Long.
  20. Vandergraf

    Vandergraf --------------------

    Jan 7, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I haven't ridden any of the passes on a bike so can't comment on them, but I am from the Midwest and have spent several weeks in CO over the years both vacationing and on business. I don't seem to do very well in high altitude even if I take a couple weeks in the area to acclimate. Watching some of the video's on this thread, my heart starts racing not because of the degree of difficulty, but because of knowing how I react to altitude. You should know how you react to thinner air before riding any bike, big or small, on these passes.