High Altitude Yaks in Ridgway, Colorado

If you had talked to me 10 years ago about the direction my creative career was headed, I’m confident I never would’ve believed I’d be a photographer living in a rural mountain town in Colorado, getting contracted to take photos of yaks. I love that Ouray County has this incredible cultural cross section of rural landscapes, agriculture, small town suburbia, athletic enthusiasts, ski bum culture, artists and cowgirls and the list goes on.

For this shoot, Full Tilt Saloon in Ridgway hired me to take photos of yaks. I contacted a local farm, Smiling Buddha Yaks and set up a time to come out to the pasture to get some shots. Some of the mamas had recently (like in the last week) had babies, so I had to be mindful of the mamas feeling territorial. Luckily the yaks’ owner’s son was there to give guidance as to which of the magnificent bovine beasts were friendly, which were timid, which were aggressive, and which were unpredictable. There were two adorable guys that were small and curiously following me around, one that let me get close but then I was pretty sure she wanted to run at me so I gave her distance, and one called Sugar who apparently lets people hug her. I have experience being around cows from living on a ranch and doing some work with our cattle, and I know this helped me feel comfortable with the situation.

While my comfort zone is photographing people, I’m so grateful for new challenges and experiences. I love looking at these images and seeing how expressive these beautiful creatures are.

Full Tilt is one of my favorite spots in Ridgway for a casual but delicious dinner. https://www.fulltiltsaloon.com/


  1. Saw the yaks one day years ago when I was driving towards Ouray from my brother’s house in Olathe and it was a surprise and something I’ve never seen.

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