Haystacks on County RD #9
Near Ridgway, CO
Just west of Ridgeway are three great country roads that take you through some of the most beautiful ranchland in southwest Colorado. County road 5, 7 and 9 are public access roads that run through the majestic 16,000 acre Double RL Ranch (owned by Ralph Lauren) up to the Uncompahgre Plateau. In my opinion, County Road 7 and 9 offer the most photographic opportunities.
The combination of beautiful farmland, hay bales, colorful hills, and the grandeur of Mt. Snuffles make for stunning landscape opportunity.
Worth Noting: In my opinion, the haystacks is what makes this shot. And unfortunately, there is no way to determine when the ranch decides to cut the hay each season. I have been by this location 4-5 and have only seen the haystacks twice.
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Trail Difficulty (2 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 2 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The location of this shot is fairly simple 1 mile drive on a dirt road and then an easy 20 ft walk. The road is a bit bumpy at times, but otherwise not very difficult. If the road is wet/muddy from a recent rain or snow the 1 mile drive can be difficult or even impassible.
Please note, the dirt road that is county road CR9 is public property and can be used for taking pictures and traveling through the ranchland. However, the land on either side of the dirt road is private property and the owner, Ralph Lauren (Double RL Ranch) takes this seriously. I have been reminded of this by ranch hands many times.
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
7,828 Ft. Elevation
Click on GPS coordinates above for a Google map to the location.
Decimal degree (DD) format: 38.109417, -107.829389
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click on image to enlarge
You can get directions on Goggle Maps to the Haystacks on County Road #9 by clicking this link. Once in Goggle Maps - click on the "Directions" button and type in your current location.
The following directions are from Ridgway, CO (which is a small town in Southwest Colorado). The closest larger towns are Montrose, CO (about 25 miles north of Ridgway) or Durango, Co (about 80 miles south of Ridgway).
From Ridgway, travel west on CO HW62 for approx. 5.2 miles and look for a sign that says ”National Forest Access – West Dallas Road”. This is between mile marker 17-18 (closer to mile marker 17). Once you reach CR 9, turn left (south) and drive through the entrance of the Double RL Ranch. Continue on this dirt road (passing a horse pasture to your right) for approximately 1 mile. At this point, on your left, you will see the beautiful hay field with Mt. Snuffles in the distance.
There are many different compositions you can make along this road. My suggestion is to walk up and back along the dirt road to find the masterpiece that is right for you.
As mentioned, if this road is wet this dirt road can be very difficult to drive on and can easily be stuck.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
For me, the best time for this shot is late afternoon to sunset (about 30 min before sunset). At that time, the lower sun creates long shadows for the hay bales with a soft glow on Mt. Snuffles. If there are no hay bales, the best time to shoot would be closer to sunset while the valley is still illuminated and the mountains glow from the late sun.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
This location is very nice during the spring and summer. However, for me the best time of year is during the fall color season (depending on the year – this ranges between mid Sept to the first week in October). The VERY BEST time to capture this spot would be: 1) after the hay has been cut and baled 2) during peak fall colors and 3) after a fresh snow storm.
The primary colors along the mountain are shrubs and underbrush – which usually turn before the Aspen trees.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
For most people, this shot is best as a grand vista, which would require a wide angle lens (24-35mm). The shot above was done as a 3 horizontal pano stitch with a 50mm lens to capture as much detail as possible.
There are no permits required – as long as you stay on the road side of the fence. There are several “no trespassing” signs along the road and the owner, Ralph Lauren (Double RL Ranch) takes this seriously.
Direction of the Shot
The shot from the road is south by southeast @ 170°
Special Nuances of Shot
This is mainly a straight forward shot, but there are different views based on where you stand along the road. I would suggest scouting the location several hours before sunset to find your composition(s). What makes this shot special is when the hay bales are out – to give it that wonderful country look. If you are in the area, you may want to scout out the location to see if there are hay bales or not.
Special Equipment Needed
Other than a tripod, there is no need for any special photography equipment unless you plan on doing a panoramic shot.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
This spot is off of the beaten path for most photographers and it would be rare to see anyone else at this location.
I use Verizon and had cell service at this spot. However, traveling much further on CR9 the cell service begins to fade.
As far as I know, there are 2 hotels in Ridgway (they usually fill-up quickly in the fall, so make sure you plan ahead). Also, Ridgway State Park is approx. 4 miles north of Ridgway, and there are also several other hotels and lodging in Ouray, CO (approx. 10 miles south of Ridgway).
Ridgway State Park is a VERY NICE state park with lots of campsites ($20 for tent only and $30 for full hook ups) and includes pay showers, laundry, vending machines, and flush restrooms.
Nearby camping and lodging
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Ridgway State Park (4 miles north of Ridgway)
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Chipeta Solar Springs Resort & Spa
304 S Lena St, Ridgway, CO
Ridgway-Ouray Lodge & Suites
373 Palomino Trail, Ridgway, CO
Ridgway is a GREAT little town to stay at, visit and eat. When in town, I always try to visit Kate's Place and the The Grit Cafe.
Kate's Place has a GREAT breakfast/brunch and I always try to stop there after my morning shoot. True Grit Café has a nice selection of cold adult beverages and a good menu. Ridgway was the location of the original True Grit movie with John Wayne and the True Grit Café was part of the opening scene.
I have also enjoyed a very good pizza and a cold brew at the Colorado Boy and in town, the Adobe Inn is a nice Mexican restaurant.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
615 W Clinton, Ridgway, CO
True Grit Café
123 N Lena Street, Ridgway, CO
Colorado Boy Pub & Brewery
602 Clinton St, Ridgway, CO
The Last Dollar Laundromat is located at 357 Sherman St. in Ridgway. There is also a laundry mat at the Ridgway State Park.
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airport is in Montrose, CO (MTJ). It is a nice regional airport that services: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise and moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.
NOTE: The Photographer's Ephemeris uses the Decimal Degree (DD) format for GPS coordinates to access their locations. The Decimal Degree (DD) coordinates can be found in the GPS section above.