Imogene Pass and Ophir Pass on the Jeep e-Bike
Imogene Pass is a high mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains located in the southwest part of the US state of Colorado. It crosses a ridge connecting Ouray Colorado with Telluride Colorado and is the highest mountain pass in the San Juan Mountains; and the second highest vehicular mountain crossing in Colorado. In addition, Imogene Pass is a Jeep Badge Of Honor trail which meant we had to tackle this incredible mountain road on the new Jeep e-Bike to prove the capability of this beast.
We met the crew from the Jeep Jamboree for their annual Ouray Colorado event to show off the new Jeep e-Bike by QuietKat and to snag the first Jeep Badge of Honor; in fact the goal for the weekend was two badges, one for Imogene and one for Ophir Pass which made for a great loop out of Ouray. This trip would solidify the Jeep e-Bike as the most capable mountain bike ever made.
We started with a drive out of Ouray up towards Camp Bird early in the morning and were instantly stunned by the beauty of the mountains. We ascended quite a way before reaching Camp Bird, an old mining camp settled in 1897. The mine got it’s name from the countless ravens that would steal food from the miners camps. By 1899 there were over 200 miners pulling gold out of the Imogene basin, an area which miners had previously abandoned. Even today there is interest in reopening the mine.
Just past historic Camp Bird is the beginning of the famous Imogene Pass Road which begins with a few rocky steep obstacles that let you know this is the real deal and don’t try to bring your mid-size rental car up this trail. The granite slabs and large step- downs were a breeze on the Jeep e-Bike, and a good indication of what was to come.
One of the first places we stopped for a break was at the (delete first) intersection of the trail and Imogene Creek. The crystal-clear stream flowed over hard granite and limestone and even late in August, the water was still as cold as the Rockies. After a few quick photos of the Jeep e-Bike in it’s element, it was time to continue up the mountain to the Upper Camp Bird Mine at the bottom of the Imogene Basin.
This is where the views really got amazing. From the Upper Camp Bird Mine you can see all the way to the top of the pass, the road switching back as it climbs up to 13,117 feet above sea level. It was time to see how capable this new Jeep e-bike really is; can it handle the rocky and rugged terrain? Will the battery have enough power to get to the top? These were the questions we set out to answer. Time to get to work.
I was amazed how the 4.8” fat tires gripped the extremely rugged trail, and the way the torque of the powerful Ultra- Drive motor simply kept turning the wheels forward. “Just keep pedaling, use the thumb throttle if needed, and don’t stop until you get to the top” I kept reminding myself. Just before the summit there is a steep slab of granite that was presenting a challenge to some of the motorcycle riders ahead of us. A bit of light rain made the slab a bit more challenging as too much power would cause the rear wheel to spin out and lose traction. It was no problem for the Jeep e-Bike, as the fat tires kept grip even in the wet, allowing me to reach the top. I had time to go back to help an older gentlemen who was really struggling to get his heavy endure-style motorcycle up the challenging feature.
Once at the summit, we were joined by one of the Jeep Jamboree groups for a great photo op. We joked about which Jeep each person drove up the hill. It was clear, the Jeep e-Bike didn’t just handle the Badge of Honor level terrain, it excelled in this terrain.
The ride down the other side into Telluride was also complete with breathtaking views and the old, abandoned town of Tomboy where we ran into another Jeep Jamboree group heading the reverse direction. They had stopped for lunch so we decided to crash their party and show off the Jeep e-Bike to the crowd. After a quick snack, we kept riding down the Tomboy road and into the town of Telluride where we would grab lunch.
From Telluride it is a short drive around the ski resort an up to the town of Ophir. Once we got through the town, it was all uphill again through beautiful aspen groves, then into the dense evergreens, and finally we reached an elevation where the trees stopped, the bushes stopped, and the only thing left was the sharp crumbled pieces of rock that had been eroded off Lookout Peak above us.
Ophir pass is known as a shelf road, and what a shelf it was. To my right a thousand feet straight down, and to my left, a slope of crumbled rock not unlike the surface of the trail. Once we reached the summit however, the road surface returned to a smoother, more traditional dirt road, which meant I could crank up the speed a bit on the downhill. The descent was fairly easy as far as the terrain but the views continued all the way back down to the Million Dollar Highway, the paved road connecting Ouray to Gunnison and so named for the potential amount of gold the highway is paved over.
We rolled back into Ouray and joined our Jamboree friends again for dinner and to chat about the amazing adventure we had. The day was a total success as we conquered both Imogene and Ophir passes earning the Jeep e-Bike two coveted Badge of Honor distinctions from Jeep, and proved the Jeep e-Bike is the most capable mountain bike ever made.
For more information about the Jeep e-Bike and how to get one of your own, go to www.Jeepe-bike.com or contact the folks at QuietKat at www.QuietKat.com.