April 17th ~ Carrizo Plain National Monument
How can one sum up in words the magnificence we beheld when our best photos don’t even come close to capturing the beauty? There really is no way other than to let you know that as many places we have visited in this big old world, I don’t think I have ever come close to saying “WOW” so many times in one day.
Between Tim and I we had three cameras, plus two iPhones and took hundreds of pictures. After reviewing them, I narrowed it down to my favorite 92 shots plus five videos. Hmmmm, still way too many to put on a blog post. I would lose even my most loyal followers, friends and family…
I whittled again, but I’m afraid it was like trying to choose between your kids and your pets (OK, I agree bad analogy, but you get the idea). So, buckle up, and hopefully you will enjoy seeing some of Nature’s Glory through our eyes…
We decided to approach the park from Interstate 5 to Highway 58, coming into the North end, closest to the Temblor Ridge area where exceptional sightings had been recently posted on the internet.
Both sides of the road were solid yellow. Amazing!
Word of warning: Please turn your volume down or even better, turn it off when viewing any of the video clips. It was windy and the noise is annoying.
We were just getting warmed up.
During the day we simply wandered around on both paved roads and dirt roads, stopping frequently to snap another picture or more accurately, pictures. Cutting across 7 Mile Road, we saw the valley floor carpeted in yellow.
Next we headed left on Soda Lake Road where we stopped for a short hike to the top of a hill for an overlook of Soda Lake.
We decided to check out Selby Campground to see if it was a place we might want to return with Ellie Mae. There are no hook-ups, but the setting was wonderful. There are several interesting rock formations in this area, such as Selby Rock.
Our best luck came when we headed along Caliente Ridge Road where we finally got into an abundance of purple flowers mixed with the yellows.
I was in heaven…
Be forewarned that Caliente Ridge Road comes to an abrupt end about 16 miles in where the gate is locked.
It was so beautiful though that we did not mind seeing it again. The surrounding hills took on deep colors as the sun went down, bringing even more texture.
I think we got some of our best shots late afternoon, including the one at the top of this page.
A smorgasbord of pictures Carrizo Plain National Monument
It was evening by the time we returned to Soda Lake Road, but Tim did snap a picture so we could remember (and show others) how to get to this area as it is not well known.
We then headed toward Hwy 166. This road is often a dirt washboard and can be impassable during wet weather. We did see well over 50 of the hopping Kangaroo Rats along this road after dark.
A few facts about Carrizo Plain National Monument:
- It is located about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles
- Primarily a large semi-arid grassland
- Home to Soda Lake, an alkali wetlands which supports migratory birds and shrimp. A boardwalk is situated along a small portion of the lake.
- Painted Rock which is decorated with pictographs etched by the Salinan, Chumash and Yokuts peoples over thousands of years. Currently closed due to barn owl nesting season. Guided tours are done once a week, but they can fill up well in advance.
- The San Andreas Fault runs through it (best place to view the fault is Wallace Creek)
- Home to several threatened and endangered species including the giant kangaroo rat, the San Joaquin kit fox, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, and the San Joaquin antelope squirrel.
- AND MOST IMPORTANT ~ After a heavy rainfall year, the hills come alive with wildflowers, with especially good viewing from Temblor Range, Elkhorn Road and Caliente Ridge Road.
A word of warning: Some of the roads may become unsafe or impassable during rainy or wet weather.
We could tell that there had been hoards of people over the weekend, as the grass along the roadside was heavily trampled down where people had stopped to take pictures. I’m very glad we waited until a weekday to go.
I would return in a heartbeat, and am hoping that another opportunity will arise.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am especially grateful for the incredible splendor that Mother Nature provided. I seriously can not remember a day that I have enjoyed more.