“Mystic Falls” – Ophir, Colorado

“Mystic Falls” – Ophir, Colorado


Metallic Prints on Metal (Glossy or Matte Finish)


I had never heard of Mystic Falls during my first trip through the San Juan Mountains in fall of 2022.  The Falls are just south of Telluride, loosely near the town of Ames and Ophir Pass Road.

When I saw a photograph of the falls while researching for my trip, I knew I wanted to photograph it.  You could see the potential for capturing many different pleasing compositions.

What concerned me a bit about traveling there was some of the conflicting information online about the falls and having to hike circuitous routes to avoid trespassing on the surrounding private property.

That did not help.  Additionally, most of the “information” people I contacted never heard of Mystic Falls.  It was really kind of surprising considering how lush and beautiful they are to see.  You feel like you are in a Pacific Northwest rainforest.

Because most people were unfamiliar with this location and another location I was seeking (the Dancing Aspens off Ophir Pass Road), I decided I was going to need to hire a guide.  I can count on 1 hand the number of times I have done that in my professional career.  Usually, I can accomplish my research online or with a few phone calls.  It is not like the old days when you poured over maps and books in advance of a trip.  Cost is the other reason I rarely hire a guide.  In this case, I made an exception.  I contacted Mountain Trip out of Telluride.  They were awesome and well worth the investment guiding me later that morning to my second location to see the Dancing Aspens or what I refer to as “The Swans of the Forest”.

They texted coordinates to me the night before and I drove over from Durango the next morning and met them at 8am.

The waterfall sits at almost 9,000 feet in elevation and the trail down and back up is steep and slippery in the rain.  Make sure your hands are free.  You may have to even sit down in a few spots.  After meeting my guide at the pre-established coordinates, we drove in one car to a parking lot near the trailhead.  We hiked into the falls from there.

The weather was not good.  In fact, it was nasty.  I did not mind the overcast at all but we were frequently pelted with rain, sleet and hail.  It was also windy, slippery and the only thing going for us was the overcast.  The weather changed rapidly with precipitation coming and going.  Thankfully, there were brief moments when the precipitation would stop and I was able to shoot.  I had my compositions ready to go for the next break in the weather, would shoot and move on setting up another composition.

I probably spent a couple hours here moving about and waiting for the opportunity to shoot any number of compositions.  At times, my guide provided an extra pair of hands and held a canopy umbrella I had over me and the equipment.

It was a short hike out but steep and slippery.  Between that and the elevation, I stopped briefly a couple times to get my breath.  You would not know from the image how nasty the elements but the beauty of the location was only enhanced by the weather. It is a beautiful waterfall made even better by the lush, moist and rich colors of the season.


“Mystic Falls” – Ophir, Colorado


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