Animas Forks is a well-preserved, small ghost town about 30 minutes from Silverton. First settled in 1873, it swelled to nearly 500 people by 1883. When the mines closed, roughly 100 years ago, the town was quickly abandoned. At more than 11,200 feet above sea level, Animas Forks is managed collaboratively by the Bureau of Land Management and San Juan County.
The jeep ride from Telluride to Animas Forks is roughly 90 minutes and takes you over the Ophir Pass, through Silverton, and along the Animas River. While most of Ophir Pass is doable on any 4WD vehicle, there are certain portions that need higher clearance. It’s roughly a one hour drive from downtown Telluride to Silverton, which is a great place to grab a bite to eat and window shop. The drive from Silverton to Animas Forks is doable on most vehicles. So even without 4WD, you can take the highway to Silverton and then head out.
After visiting Animas Fork, the options are to return back to Silverton or to go on to California Pass or Engineer Pass. A high-clearance, 4WD vehicle is highly recommended!