Photograph Rampart Range Road
Colorado › Rampart Range Road
Added by Brian Lewis
Rampart Range Road is a longer, but infinitely more scenic route from Colorado Springs to Woodland Park. Photography opportunities are abundant from three distinct areas - the Waldo Canyon Burn, the overlooks to the south and the vast aspen-fringed meadows near Rampart Reservoir.
From the starting point near Balanced Rock in Garden of the Gods, Rampart Range Road turns to dirt and begins a steady climb into the foothills west of Colorado Springs. Though dirt, the road is well-graded and perfectly suitable for passenger cars in good weather. As the road climbs, you'll travel through three distinct sections, detailed below, all with unique opportunities for photography.
The first few miles provide some seldom-seen views above Garden of the Gods and overlooks of Colorado Springs, but things get much more interesting once the drive enters the Waldo Canyon Burn Area (camping and hiking are currently prohibited within the burn area; heed Forest Service signage). In June of 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire burned a huge area of these foothills including over 300 homes in the mountains suburbs of Colorado Springs. Despite the destruction of the past, driving the road now gives a glimpse into the regeneration of a forest after a catastrophic fire - you'll notice wildflowers in the spring, grasses in summer and chutes of golden aspen in fall.
Leaving the burn area, you'll start to catch stunning views of Pikes Peak to the south. At about the 11-mile-mark you'll see a small pull-off on the south side of the road, with a few social trails leading up a steep hillside. It's in your best interest to take the short climb to the top where you'll be treated to vertigo-inducing views down to Cascade, the Highway 24 corridor and the massive north face of Pikes towering above.
About 17 miles in you'll reach a turn-off for Rampart Reservoir, which makes an excellent side trip for fishing, hiking or SUP. Beyond the reservoir, the forest opens up and you'll see Pikes Peak looming over a broad meadow of sweeping grasses and long views to the distant mountains of Teller County. These meadows are particularly photogenic, taking on a golden hue during the magic hours near sunrise and sunset.
- A vehicle (the road is also open to cyclists, hikers and runners, but be prepared for tons of elevation gain and some dust from passing drivers)
- Camera Gear
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From A Native
Thanks for posting this Brian! I've travelled this road many times and every time it makes me appreciate the state I live in even more. I have to say that my favorite part to pull off and take photos of Pikes Peak is at the top of the large hill before the decent to Rampart reservoir. That side of the road was not touched by the fire and it is magnificent. Also, depending on the time of year, that stretch of road can be sketch, but if one takes it slow, it's just fine. Excellent choice for a Sunday drive!
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