Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Backroads: Our Route from Eureka, NV, to Middlegate Station over Ophir Summit

This sign, seen at the mouth of Ophir Canyon in October, 2008, is missing. Does that mean that the road is no longer being maintained?

We went the long way from Eureka, Nevada, to Middlegate Station, down old Highway 8A through Big Smoky Valley, to the Ophir Canyon road, and up and over Ophir Summit. While trying to plot out our route, I discovered a gap in Google maps, between the old silver-mining town of Ophir and Ophir Summit. Bing Maps will create one route map (link), but will not give me an embed code that shows the route, just a map sans route. Consequently, I'm going to embed two Google Maps; you'll note the gap between the two of them.

Map 1: location A is the mouth of Ophir Canyon, location C is the ghost town of Ophir, location E is where Google thinks the road ends. Zoom out to see the entire eastern part of our trip to Middlegate.

Map 2: Point A is Ophir Summit at 10,109 feet, Point B is in Reese River Valley, Point C is the small town of Ione, Point D is Brunton Pass (we passed the turnoff to Berlin-Icthyosaur without stopping), Point F is Middlegate Station. Zoom out to see the entire western portion of our trip to Middlegate.

Note the gap between Point E on the first map ("end of the road" in Ophir Canyon, above Ophir) and Point A on the second map (Ophir Summit). The entire road is impassable without 4WD, and it is impassable under some conditions with it (snow, mud). The worst part of the road — provided that you have made it through all the many creek crossings and over all the easy-to-scrape rocks in the lower part of the canyon below Ophir — is not the gap area missing on Google Maps. The worst part is just below that, about half way between Point D and Point E, in a very steep section going around a turn through thick aspens, a section that is at times muddy judging by week-old tracks.
The yellow sign, looking back toward the Ophir Canyon road we just came up, says: No Turnaround Ahead. No kidding!


Tony Edger said...

Great adventure. So, what are you driving that gets you through? I probably missed an earlier posting that featured "Old Bessie."

Silver Fox said...

I just drive an old Chevy half-ton 4x4 pickup. This post has a distant shot of my truck, toward the bottom. The next post describes the beginning of the canyon a bit more, and what it was like driving through it.