Meadow on County Rd #7
Near Ridgway, CO
Colorado is a wonderful place for landscape photography. The open range combined with snow capped mountains and the magnificent colors and hues that appear each fall produce a land of opportunity for a photographer and someone just wanting to enjoy the great outdoors. This location captures much of that feeling in a single image.
You can capture plenty of great Colorado landscapes just by driving the 3 county roads known as CR5, CR7, and CR9 outside Ridgway, CO. Each of the 3 dirt roads cuts through some of the most beautiful land Colorado has to offer.
This image was taken at the end of CR7 just after it passes through the Double RL Ranch and turns back into public land. The little valley with split rail fences and golden Aspens lining the hills makes for a great photographic opportunity.
Trail Difficulty (3 out of 5)
I would rate the difficulty of this trail between 3 and 5 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The 7.7 mile drive on the dirt road that is CR7 can be bumpy and rough in some places and should be traveled only with a 4-wheeel drive vehicle.
If the road is muddy, don’t attempt to drive it, as you are almost guaranteed to get stuck and it is an 8 mile walk back to Ridgway.
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
9,126 Ft. Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click on image to enlarge
From Ridgway, travel west on CO HW62 for approx. 3.9 miles and look for a sign that says “National Forest Access—Dallas Creek.” Once you reach a green sign that says “Ouray 7 County)” CR 7, turn left (south) and drive through the entrance of the Double RL Ranch. At this point, set your car trip recorder.
Continue on this dirt road for 2.1 miles until the road splits. Stay right on CR7 (not CR7a) and continue on CR for another 5.9 miles (re-entering the National Park area).
At the fork in the road turn right and head back the way you were coming and you will see an open field with some old split rail fences. Continue on this bumpy dirt road for ¼ mile. There should be an old out house in the little dirt parking lot. The shot was taken right by the split rail fence.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
The image above was taken in the early morning (a few hours after sunrise) because I wanted to have the complete valley illuminated. However, this might also work for either sunrise or sunset.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
The best time of year to shoot Aspen trees is during the fall color season (depending on the year, this ranges between mid September to the first week in October). In this part of the country, the Aspens are mainly yellow to golden (rarely orange or red) and change at different times based on elevation and temperature.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
The shot above was taken with a 24mm lens.
There are no permits required – as long as you stay on the road. 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 direction of the shot was south by south @ 181°
Special Nuances of Shot
The shot is pretty straight forward. Try to use a rock or other object to anchor the image.
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 many others people at this location.
I use Verizon and there was NO cell service for most of drive on County Rd 7. There are places along the road where the service is spotty and the closer you get to the main highway (CO HW62), the better the reception.
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