A LITTLE PIECE OF HEAVEN
Near Ridgway, CO
I found this location one morning when I was just driving an old dirt road near Ridgway, CO (County Rd. 9). The road was muddy from the previous night’s snowstorm and I was focused more on the road than paying attention to the views. Luckily, I looked up for a moment and saw this wonderful sight and it took my breath away.
I parked my Jeep and stayed here all morning, without a concern in the world. I thought this must be what Heaven is like…
Trail Difficulty - MODERATE
I would rate the difficulty of this trail 3 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The location is right of the road, but the drive to the location is 5.4 miles on a narrow dirt road (with several bumps and holes), winding through the Colorado countryside. I would recommend a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Important to note: There are several places on the road that are not wide enough for oncoming traffic. There are 2 places where you will be making a blind curve in a very narrow section and oncoming traffic may cause a head-on collision. It is best to be very cautious on this road and greatly reduce your speed on turns. If the road is wet or muddy, don’t attempt to drive the road as you are almost guaranteed to get stuck and it is a 12 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.
Download KMZ Trail File
Click Here to download the KMZ file for this location
GPS Coordinates & Elevation
8,764 Ft. Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
Click link above to view location in Google Earth
CLICK HERE to get driving directions to A Little Piece of Heaven.
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 a green sign that says “Ouray 9 County” CR 9, turn left (south) and drive through the entrance of the Double RL Ranch. At this point set your car trip recorder and continue on this dirt road for 5.4 miles.
Once you reach 4.1 miles you will see the red ranch house on your left. Continue for another 1.3 miles on CR9. The shoot was taken just off of the road facing south by southwest.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
You can shoot this location at any time during the day. However, the best times are at sunrise or early morning before the sun becomes too harsh and blows out the scene.
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 exposure.
The above shot was taken on September 25th
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 southwest @ 215°
Special Nuances of Shot
This is mainly a straightforward shot. You may want to walk around the area to find the best composition for you. There are a handful of small Aspen trees that help to give color and depth to the shot.
Special Equipment Needed
Other than a tripod, there is no need for any special photography equipment unless you plan on doing a panoramic shot. If you arrive pre-dawn at this location in the fall, it is most likely to be very cold (15 - 20°), so be sure to bring appropriate clothes, hats, and gloves.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
This spot is far off of the beaten path for most photographers and it would be rare to see anyone else at this location.
The weather in Colorado is normally mild in the summer and cold (lows in the 20’s) in the spring and fall. Having never been to this location in the winter, I am not sure the road is open or maintained that time of year.
I use Verizon and there is NO cell service at this spot. However, there is cell service on this road as you travel back toward CO HW62.
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