Two of My Favorites

I wanted to start out with two of my personal favorites, my favorite place to visit and unwind, and my favorite picture from there. The place is Vickers’ Ranch in the San Juan Mountains just outside of Lake City, Colorado. It is not the easiest place in the world to get to being one of the most remote towns in the lower 48 states, meaning you will have to drive over 50 miles to get to the nearest Wal-Mart, Safeway, or other major shopping areas, but it is well worth the extra effort and planning. Lake City is half-way on the “Silver Thread Scenic Byway”. Highway 149 which runs south for 115 miles from Gunnison’s Blue Mesa Reservoir, then along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, over the Continental Divide by way of Slumgullion Pass, down to and along the Rio Grande River, through Creede Colorado, and ends at Highway 160 in South Fork, Colorado. It is definitely one of the prettiest paved highways in Colorado.

If you like the outdoors, nature, wildlife, fishing, hiking, four-wheeling, or just relaxing in a beautiful alpine setting, this is definitely the place for you to try out. The San Juan Mountains are the Alps of the Rockies that rapidly rise from the valleys to over14000 ft. These hills are alive with wildlife, from deer, elk, and a occasional moose, to bear, mountain lions, coyotes, and foxes, to bighorn sheep and mountain goats, to eagles, Canadian geese, and hummingbirds. If you like fishing, this is a great place to come to test your skills with elusive browns, fighting rainbow, cutthroat, and cutbows, to numerous brook trout. You can get in a boat or fish from the shore on Lake San Cristobal, one of Colorado’s few natural lakes created by a massive slump (landslide) some million years ago that dammed the Lake Fork River to form the lake. Or try your luck on the Lake Fork, Henson, Cebolla or Rio Grande Rivers. Plus the are many high mountain streams and ponds which rarely get fished that are definitely worth the effort to try out. You can go rafting or tubing on the river when the water level is right. You can horseback ride or hike the numerous trails around the area to explore the wilderness. If you like four-wheeling, visit the ghost of Carson or take a day and travel the Scenic Alpine Loop which will take you to the top of the world (or the San Juans). The view on top of Engineer’s Pass is extraordinary. During the daytime the sky is the most incredible one has ever seen and at night you’ll see more stars than you would think possible.

When I go to Lake City with my wife Kim and our dogs, we always stay at Vickers’ Ranch where they have numerous cabins that can be leased. The Vickers family is one of the nicest families I have ever had the pleasure to meet. The lower ranch straddles the Lake Fork and has three ponds for fishing by their guests. They rent horses for trail rides and breakfast rides to the upper ranch. The upper ranch is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Once a week, as weather permits, they have a cook-out on top of Gold Hill overlooking Lake San Cristobal and valley for their guests and friends. Everyone brings what they want to BBQ and drink, plus a side dish to share. A great time is had by all eating and watching the sun go down. It is the best place I have ever been for a cookout. Good people attract good people. Thank you to the Vickers family.

The picture I took above is one of the many ponds located on the upper ranch. I would wake up early and go to the upper ranch with my lab Splash looking for wildlife and maybe a little early morning fishing. I caught this picture early that September morning, before Splash jumped into the pond and stirred up the water. The only thing that was done to the picture was to crop the vignette out of the corners. It is one of my best pictures I have ever taken and will remain so since it was the one that hooked me on catching nature’s beauty through photography. I tried creating some alternate versions of this picture using Photoshop, like sepia version above, or the painterly effect at the end of the slideshow “One September in Lake City”. I still think the original is best.

Please click HERE to view the pictures in the Slideshow Gallery. Below is the video. It covers the month of September from the aspen changing to their glorious gold, to a wine festival Lake City puts on, to the pending storms that tell you winter is coming. I hope you enjoyed this post.


  1. Ann Robson says:

    Terrific photo, terrific place but the people are great there too! Ann

    • Dave says:

      You are absolutely right. They are the BEST!!!!

  2. Tally Adams says:

    My first visit to your site. Time never available. What a pleasant surprise! That WAS a great Summer and Fall! Will never forget it!
    Your pictures are absolutely excellent! Keep up the great work…and share.

    • Dave says:

      Thank you. Great place, great people.

  3. Gene Bryson says:

    That was a great year for Aspen Dave, However the Fall of 2010 topped all, due to a early August frost, then the most gorgeous Indian Summer until mid October.
    It was the show of shows.

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