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 Ranch, which 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.
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.
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.
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.
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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