Photography at the Rush Ranch, Solano Land Trust (California, USA)

Keeping up with my series of posts about photography destinations not far from the greater Sacramento area, I want to introduce my followers to Rush Ranchwhich has previously appeared in my blog on April 8, 2022. Back then I reported on how happy I was to wake up early to take the pictures I took that day, and which appear also in this post.

The Rush Ranch is a hidden gem for photography, particularly in the spring, when the grass is green, the cows are in the pastures, and there is a potential for wildflowers. Although I seldom see photographers there, there are interesting things to shoot.

Location and Parking

From I-80 in Fairfield, take Hwy 12 East toward Rio Vista/Suisun City. Go on Hwy 12 approximately 3 miles to the intersection with Grizzly Island Rd (south) and Sunset Ave (north). Turn south (right) on Grizzly Island Rd and drive approximately 2 miles to ranch entrance on right. There are a few parking spaces before the gate, they are for the South Pasture trailhead. There is another parking lot inside the ranch, by the barn. When there is no planned event at Rush Ranch, parking should not be a problem.

Horse wagon near the entrance of Rush Ranch

Photography

There are basically three distinct themes to photograph at Rush Ranch:  the barn and visitors center area, the pasture and the animals.  

If you like to photograph old tractors, agriculture tools, tractors, trucks, windmill, bones, old bottles etc, particularly if they are in a state of rust and decay, stick around the barn. There you will also find a visitors’ center, a small museum, and a garden with native plants.

Old bottles and bones on display
Mustards in bloom near turbine by visitors center
Saw in black and white

The appaloosa horses were still there, last time I went. There were also cows, and if you get deep into the marsh, you may be fortunate enough to see river others and jack rabbits.

To me, landscape photography, particularly when there are some clouds, may prove challenging but rewarding at Rush Ranch. Unlike the landscape of Vacaville’s Lagoon Valley Park, which still retains some of the oak trees typical of the chaparral scrubland, the Rush Ranch has very few trees. The land rises out of the northeast edge of the Suisun Marsh, and stretches across 2,070 acres of marsh, grasslands and rolling hills.

Typical landscape at Rush Ranch

There are three main trails you can follow at Rush Ranch, and they are loops less than two miles long each. This brochure has a map of the trails.

Photography tips   

In Fairfield, clouds are not too uncommon from the fall to the spring and will add a layer of interest to your photo. The pasture is intermingled with hills which, at a distance, provide an exit point for your composition. To add a tridimensional feel to your landscape, use the numerous gates, fences, rocks, and trails.

Most types of outdoor photography benefit from a partly cloudy day and more diffused light. This is also true for Rush Ranch. If your day turns out sunny and cloudless, a diffuser will come in handy to concentrate on the small stuff.

A word of caution

There exists something known as a rattle snake. They can and will bite you if you step on them, so look where you step, particularly on trails that are exposed to the sun and near rock formations. Although the existence of snakes is no good reason to avoid the outdoors, it is a good reason to pay particularly close attention to your surroundings. 

Resources: This official site has additional and updated information about the Rush Ranch. 

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Published by Alessandra Chaves

Photographer with a preference for nature photography in black and white and other abstractions.

30 thoughts on “Photography at the Rush Ranch, Solano Land Trust (California, USA)

  1. Wow !! That is quite a wondrous location. I really love the first photo with the trail that leads through the center. I feel I could walk for miles and miles and just absorb the energy. I definitely had the need to read about it’s origins. I’m curious though … are there any remnants left from the matin e villages. It reads ‘ By 1823, there were no observed Native Americans left in the area, only abandoned and destroyed village sites.’ I’m always saddened by these portions of history. Though I’m glad the Rush family had the need to preserve what was left. It is really a beautiful location. You are so lucky to be able to enjoy it as a photographer. I really love all the photos.

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    1. Here in California it is common to find sites where the rocks have pits on them. They are named grinding rocks and it’s where the native peoples used to grind their acorns to make flowers. Acorns and to some extent the buckeye were important sources of food for Native Americans. There is one such site at Rush Ranch. I’m sure you can easily find on Google a map of the native tribes in California, it was very populated here. I also feel very sad when I think about them being basically whipped out so we can be here.

      I’m glad you liked the photos and thanks for stopping by and commenting. Yes it is a magical yet under appreciated place. Nearby, the Grizzly Island is a bird watching paradise.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Seldom seeing photographers at Rush Ranch means you have more of the place to yourself—not that other photographers would necessarily get in your way or want to photograph subjects that appeal to you—especially things like old those bottles and bones or that rotary saw blade. Two days ago, upon arriving at the Doeskin Ranch in the Texas Hill Country I was initially disappointed to more than just a few cars in the parking lot, yet in fact as we walked three miles through the property we rarely encountered anyone else. Your mention of a rattlesnake comes as a coincidence because we did see a rattlesnake stretched out across the main trail almost as soon as we got there. I’m always glad for the chance to photograph one—naturally with a 400mm lens. Maybe you’ll get that chance, too, if you haven’t already.

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    1. I don’t know if I want that chance! Mostly, I hear them, and when I do, I don’t go there! Rattle snakes are very common here. Once I visited a ranch nearby and when the rancher showed us a pile of rocks we were walking towards, which he called “rattlesnake rocks”, people stopped and starting heading back! The rancher was disappointed, he thought he was about to show us something precious.

      You are right that most people don’t go too far from their cars, usually, but since the pandemics I have seen more people on trails. Not having something else to do encouraged them to explore more and they liked it. Good for them, but not so good for those who want the place all for ourselves.

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      1. As you know so well, visiting such places during the week is a lot better than on weekends. In 2016 we spent a week in the San Francisco area. When you’re traveling you can’t afford to waste any days, so we ended up visiting Muir Woods on a Saturday. Though it was still morning, the place was mobbed, with the close parking lots full and cars parked along the road for half a mile.

        You probably needn’t be afraid of rattlesnakes. They don’t want to have anything to do with people, so the only real danger is if you walk close to one without knowing it’s there. I’ve done that several times and thankfully haven’t been attacked—so far, and hopefully forever.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, if I did not work during the week, I would rather go photographing on a Monday. However, from where I live, going towards the bay area during the week is quite prohibitive. There are a lot of folks who work in the bay area and because they cannot afford living there, they live in Sacramento, and drive on a regular basis to their jobs in the greater San Francisco area.

        I know what you mean regarding Muir Woods! If you drive some four hours North on 101, however, you can have the redwoods basically to yourself.

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  3. Love the fence heading off into the distance. I read something once by a photographer who did nice shots of rural scenes – his advice was to just drive until you were lost, then start looking around…

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    1. LOL, easy done! These rural places often have poor cell phone reception, so getting out can be tricky! The only problem I have with driving on county roads is often few places to pull over and when you try a semi-truck appears from nowhere and you have to move.

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  4. Love the black and white old saw blade! You could see this in a gallery! The lines of fences going off into the distance are really illustrative of the area as well. The mention of the rattle snake reminds me of a recent hike near my home where we passed a couple on the path who were looking further ahead and as we walked on I could hear a rattle that seemed to be off near some rocks about 30 feet away. So I stopped to point it out to my wife, turning around and looking at the rocks. Then I looked down and the snake was 4 feet away on the path! The other hikers were all looking at me! Oops!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Strong graphic elements look good in black and white. A few years ago hiking in the desert to collect insects I heard several snakes rattling. Our guide was really good at spotting them, pointing them out. Your story reminded of this event.

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  5. I laughed at your last comment, which raised a few questions for me: especially, why would anyone need to prove they’ve been there? I suppose it’s like Half-Dome or the Eiffel Tower; if you’re there, you just have to take a photo to add to the record. In any event, I’m quite taken with the windmill and the fence. That sort of structure always appeals to me, and these are in a particularly beautiful setting. You did them justice!

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      1. It occurred to me yesterday that we once had an iconic place in Houston: the Astrodome. Now that it’s no longer used and has fallen into significant disrepair, it’s not the photographers’ magnet it used to be, but I can’t think of anything that’s taken its place. Interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting place! I like the way you place your photography in context by offering info about the location. What a beautiful trail through the flowers.

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    1. Thank you. I also want to raise local awareness about a few different places near us, where we can go photograph, now that gasoline is expensive. No need to travel miles on end to take pictures. I doubt any of the locals read my posts, but one can only hope. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Always nice to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This quite an inviting location and very nice to have it close to home. The last shot is very well composed and I like the look to the atmosphere…some blue, some clouds, and possible rain. Did you take a landscape view of the windmill? That’s a nice feature as well. The path in the first shot is quite inviting.

    In the mid-70’s I worked at Diamond Match Co. in Springfield, MA. One of my co-workers, a chemist, was being transferred to Chico and I considered moving there. I chickened out at the last moment. If I had moved I am sure I would enjoy visiting this location.

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    1. Thank you. I have several views of that windmill! Chico is about 2 hours North from here, and I have visited only once. A neighboring town, Paradise, has been burnt to ground. Chico is in a fire-prone region.

      Liked by 1 person

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