In praise of place: Ouray and environs (Part 4)

… in which we take a short scenic side trip up the Clear Lake trail, an easy but spectacular jeep road off the Million Dollar Highway just N. of Silverton.

Clear Creek Meadow

Designated as Co Rd 12 (which branches off from Co Rd 7, which intersects with Hwy 550 – aka the Million Dollar Highway), most of this drive could probably be accomplished in a high clearance 2WD vehicle — but I’m no expert in such matters, and you should definitely not rely on my advice.

Braided falls, Clear Creek

I’ll never forget the time Anne and I started up Ophir Pass (from the Ophir side) and encountered a four door family sedan clattering towards us from above. I’d already been cursing the boulder field we’d navigated for the past 1/4 mile, and here we were in  a 4WD Jeep Liberty. When we came abreast of this older couple, I was astonished to learn that they had not, in fact, started up the road from Ophir and finally, wisely,  decided to turn around — but that they had in fact driven their built-for-the-highway late model auto all the way over the pass from the Silverton side.


(They were on their way to Telluride, and had seen the Ophir Pass road on a map — thought it might be a short cut. Amazing.)

We never did discover whether they made it the rest of the way across the boulder field and into Ophir (much less points beyond) — our destination lay back in Ouray on the other side of the 11,000 ft. pass.


But I’ll wager their undercarriage was never the same again. Even shorter odds on them trying out another San Juan short cut on a whim.


These photos are from 2006, taken with the Mark I Canon 5D — a fine camera that I traded in for a 5D II a couple of years ago. Kind of wish I’d kept the old 5D as a backup… but hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?

City slicker


10 thoughts on “In praise of place: Ouray and environs (Part 4)

  1. Vicky, it would have been my walking-around/utility/general purpose lens: Tamron 28-75 2.8. It’s been my most-used lens through three different SLRs, and still going strong. I’ve added a couple of L-series lenses to my arsenal over the years, but never had a reason to upgrade over this focal length range.

    Only issue: a good deal of aberration at the wide end, but it’s correctable in Lightroom and, of course, in nature shots pretty much unnoticeable.

    Diameter? Looks like I was shooting f/5/6 – f/8 that day, but opened up some for the flower shot.


    • I was wondering mainly because I’m thinking I should hunt out a wide-angle lens (my current range ends at 18mm) and have been watching landscape results to see who is using what and what the results are like. Thanks for the info!! I would have sworn you had a wider angle in some of those shots. Great job!

  2. See, 18mm sounds pretty wide to me – but then I notice you’re shooting with the D70, which has a 1.5 conversion factor, resulting in a 27mm equivalent – about the same as the wide end of the lens I was using here. (My 5DII being full-frame.)

    I’ve only recently begun growing comfortable with shooting at wider angles – I did use the 16-35 2.8 for the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah photos.

    • Exactly. The conversion factor makes the Tokina 11-16mm very appealing. 🙂
      I feel like I can see the shots I want to make, but often my lens or two-legged zoom (stepping back several paces) just won’t allow me to recreate with the camera what I see in my mind’s eye. There are quite a few landscape shots that I have “bookmarked” mentally for when I can return with a wider lens.

  3. You’ve discovered the wonders of Ouray country! I haven’t been there in ten years, but seeing photos of the place always makes me nostalgic. It never fails.

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