Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dalles Mountain Ranch Annual Visit

"The flowers are blooming and I must go...."

Just before sunrise

It's become one of my new traditions.  Since discovering the Dalles Mountain Ranch two years ago, I've made it a point to catch the annual spring wildflower bloom.

Lupine and old fence

Two Saturdays ago, I paid my yearly visit.  Rising at an ungodly early hour, I drove east in the predawn darkness, headed towards the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.  Across the river from The Dalles is the Columbia Hills State Park.  And within this wonderful park is an old ranch (you can read more about the ranch here and also here).

Vast flower fields

Although the old ranch buildings are interesting, the main attraction of this park is the prolific wildflower fields.  Every April, the surrounding hillsides erupt in brilliant shades of yellow.

Morning light hits the hills

The cheerful yellow balsamroot blooms are the stars of the show.  Mixed in with all this brilliant yellow are dazzling purple lupine.

Colorful pasture

Arriving before sunrise, I wandered amidst the vast flower fields, trying to pick out a good spot to capture the sun's first rays.

Star of the show

Although my attempts to catch daybreak were a bust, I did get some good post-sunrise photos.

Mt Hood rises above

2016 has been a good flower year.  I've never seen such a huge amount of balsamroot.  The concentrations were so large they colored the hillsides yellow.  It was as if someone had swept a giant paintbrush across them.

Yellow hills

A gravel road takes visitors above the ranch for a bird's-eye view of the vast sweeping pasturelands and the Columbia River below.  There's also some killer views of Mt. Hood.

Another shot of my favorite mountain

I must've spent well over an hour wandering those grassy slopes with my camera.

Columbia River

The Columbia River was a shining blue ribbon far below my lofty perch.


Not only was it a good year for balsamroot, the lupine also seemed to be doing just fine.

Cheery balsamroot

I finally drove back to the old ranch buildings, and spent some time wandering amongst them.  A few pieces of ancient farm equipment were scattered in another flower field, and I had fun photographing them against this colorful backdrop.

Old wagon wheel

One of the big draws to the Dalles Mountain Ranch is a rusty old car sitting in the middle of a large field of flowers.  Two years ago, I spent a considerable amount of time searching for this old auto.

Heading towards the famous auto

My previous two trips to the ranch had been on weekdays, and I'd had the car and it's flower field all to myself.  But today being Saturday, I knew I wouldn't get so lucky.

Lots of photographers at the auto!

I wandered over to the car's final resting place.  As I glanced over the fenceline, I spotted a good half dozen photographers spread out around it's old, rusting hulk.  It's location no longer a secret, I realized there was no way I'd be able to get any good photos today.


However, I found the highest concentrations of wildflowers here in this field.  Not only were the flowers thick, their colors were the most vivid of any place on the ranch.  Since, I couldn't get any unobstructed shots of the car, instead I opted to photograph the flowers.

Marmots in the old barn

After getting copious wildflower images, I wandered back through the old barnyard.  As luck would have it, I happened upon a couple of marmots hanging out beside one of the tumble-down structures, and was able to get a few photos of them.

Bountiful wildflowers

By 10 o'clock I had a memory card full of gorgeous wildflower images.  Taking a final pass through the ranch outbuildings, I just had to capture one more photo of this picturesque vintage wagon.

Old ranch wagon

Yes, truly a gem of a state park, I was glad I'd made the effort to rise early and make the drive.

Back at the ranch

The Dalles Mountain Ranch is truly a special place.  I'm glad the Washington State Parks department has preserved this beautiful area for all to enjoy.

Until next year!

Sharing with:  Floral Friday Fotos and Through My Lens and Today's Flowers


  1. ALl these shots are GORGEOUS. what a wonderful place to photographs. Love the old brikenwith down fence and wagon with beautiful flowers surrounding them

  2. Belos campos floridos, uma maravilha da natureza.
    Um abraço e bom fim de semana.

  3. Wonderful series of such a beautiful place, especially in the spring
    Thanks for taking us along... I didn't make it out there this year. (Seriously bad back)

  4. A feast for the eyes, Sunday consider linking to The Barn Collective.

  5. Of course it is so obvious why you decided to make it a tradition to go at this time of year! That place is a dream!

  6. Hello, Linda! These are gorgeous photos of the ranch and the views are amazing. I love the shot with Mount Hood. The Balsamroot is beautiful. So many lovely photo, I could not choose a favorite, they are all fantastic. Happy Friday, enjoy your weekend!

  7. Beautiful , wide sweeping vistas.

  8. Awesome! I'd sure like to spend some time in the PNW in the spring!

  9. Linda, there is something amazing about your photography...I feel as though I am right there with you seeing all the beauty in your photos! Thank you so much for sharing.

  10. De.finitely worth getting up early to see all those flowers in full bloom

  11. So beautiful! This is a wonderful tradition!

  12. Third fabulous visit, but your photos have provided a different feel each time. Absolutely stunning, especially the one with the leaning fence and the one with the view to Mt Hood and the .................

  13. These are awesome spring shots! The photos are so bright and colorful and cheery!

  14. I remember those spectacular flowers and the rusty old car from last year! Best meadows of wildflowers I've ever seen.

  15. I always LOVE to see your pics of Dalles. too bad you didn't get any of the car this year. love the fence images too.

  16. It is so good that states preserve these wild open spaces for all to enjoy! The wildflowers there are stunning! It really looks like nature's paintbrush upon the hills, and all the close ups were fabulous. I think the wetter than average spring has been good for wildflowers, and I'm hoping when it warms up here in Colorado we will also have a good year for them. The balasmroot you photographed looks very much like the alpine "old man of the mountain" wildflower that grows on mountain tops here.

  17. Stunning photos Linda. I'd love to visit this place.

  18. Absolutely beautiful shots Linda! It's a shame when we have that perfect composition in our mind but loads of people around it. Maybe next year :) Take care xx

  19. I thought I had posted a comment, but will try again as your photos of Dalles Ranch are yet again spectacular. It's your 3rd visit but the each year your photos have a difference to them. My favourite is the leaning fence view.

  20. The wildflowers are just spectacular. Great photos... really beautiful.

  21. I was there about a month ago, but it didn't look anything like what you've captured here. I suppose I've missed the peak bloom again this year. And I'm sure the getting up ungodly early is part of your success. I'll have to prep myself for that next year. How far did you drive up?

  22. Beautiful!! It does look better than last year, you seem to have timed your visit just right! :)

  23. Wow, the flowering fields are gorgeous! What a lovely sight to see.

  24. Can't beat entire fields transformed by spring colour. Worth an early start to capture it all in favourable lighting conditions.

  25. Thats a tradition I can understand and would embrace given half a chance. Wonderful.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  26. A post full of the beauty of spring...this captures warm the heart!

  27. Definitely worth the ungodly hour and the drive! Your photos are STUNNING my dear! I always say only photographers and dog show people get up in the dark of night to be somewhere at sun up! The shot of the photographers at the auto was too funny.

  28. What a great place - it looks like a photographer's dream.

  29. Wow you find the most wonderful places!! I want to go there. You must be a professional photographer I think. Each shot is so perfect. Thanks so much for sharing these photos with all of us bloggers. I think they would look nice printed out and hanging on a wall.

  30. Absolutely gorgeous! I'm a native Oregonian who recently moved from PDX to Vancouver, Wa. I appreciate the great beauty of my home state!

  31. Oh, my. My lupine are just visible o er the grass

  32. Breathtakingly beautiful photos! Gave my morning a little lift, Linda!
    Many thanks for joining the Floral Friday Fotos and I look forward to your next contribution.

  33. Gorgeous pics of a place I never heard of. Wow. Your ability to get out of bed early has such a great pay-off!

  34. Oh my goodness Linda, such a fantastic display of wildflowers. All your photos are a joy. I would like to invite you to link to my Today's Flowers meme. The address is:

    Thanks for considering and have a great weekend.

    1. Hello again Linda, thank you so much for sharing these with TF. So appreciative!

  35. Nature at its best. Fabulous photos.

  36. Wow .... that are stunning shots .... what a wonderful landscape with these gorgeous blooms .... great photo work ..
    Greetings, Karin.........

  37. What a fantastic area!!!! I could stay there for days just looking at that scenery and the flowers.

  38. What a fantastic place, the flowers and the evocative old buildings


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