Photograph one of the most iconic locations

Along with Maroon Lake and Crystal Mill, Dallas Divide is one of Colorado's iconic photography locations. It's proximity to the rugged San Juan mountains makes it an ideal location to capture some of Colorado's most incredible scenery in one picture frame.

Start your adventure by grabbing your tripod and camera and driving to Dallas Divide. There is a large, hard to miss pull off about 6 miles west of the town of Ridgway, Colorado. The road is a paved highway so any vehicle can easily make it to the divide. Depending on the time of day and year, there are a wide variety of photographic options you'll be able to choose from when taking pictures in this area.

Sunrises are particularly spectacular on Dallas Divide. On many mornings, alpenglow will illuminate the many jagged couloirs that carve into the sides of the peaks. Checking weather reports can help you determine if a good sunrise is more likely. I try to look for roughly 40-70% cloud coverage consisting of higher clouds which are more likely to reflect sunlight in a colorful manner. Additionally, use of a tripod can allow for longer exposures and less shake than holding a camera while shooting. Using a higher white balance can make colors seem much warmer which is often a desired sunrise effect.

Mid-day shots will allow you to capture the bluebird skies and grassy plains that surround the mountain range. In summertime, ominous storm clouds make an interesting picture subject and add to the foreboding vibe these particular peaks can sometimes give. 

Fall is an especially popular time of year to visit Dallas Divide. Thousands of changing aspen leaves entice photographers from all over the state (and country!) to come take in the colors and photographic opportunities present in this area. If you're lucky, you'll be able to shoot a fresh snowfall contrasted with the yellow leaves. This setting makes for a stunning, timeless representation of a Colorado fall.

Winters are a great time to photograph snowy mountains. Some parts of peaks are so steep they are unable to hold snow, and the dark grays of the rock balances the white snow nicely. Winter is also a great time for astrophotography. With the sun setting early, you won't have to be out late in the cold to capture the stars above the San Juans. Being in a relatively isolated location, Dallas Divide has incredibly dark skies to shoot. It can be tricky to balance a high ISO and picture noise, but post processing can eliminate some of the unwanted grain commonly found in night pictures. A tripod or other stationary camera prop is necessary for this type of photography as exposures tend to be longer and shooting by hand will cause picture shake and blurring.

There are unlimited, year round possibilities when it comes to photographing Dallas Divide. The 13,000+ foot peaks, basins, couloirs, and surrounding scenery are sure to amaze both the beginning photographer as well as the seasoned veteran.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Different lenses (zoom, wide angle, etc.)
  • Remote shutter control (if desired)
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Activities Photography
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Year Round
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Handicap Accessible
Scenic

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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