Crusin’ Into Carrizo

Carrizo sign and gilda
The west entrance to Carrizo Plain National Monument

About two hours from Gilda’s (our 1997 Eurovan) driveway, is a locale that has a history of spectacular color—and we’ve missed every one of those highly publicized wildflower super blooms. But today was the day when Gilda rolled into 50 shades of yellow, interspersed with magenta, blue, purple, and white — much as if the angels grabbed rainbow colors and tossed them to the ground.

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But today was the day when Gilda rolled into 50 shades of yellow, interspersed with magenta, blue, purple, and white — much as if the angels grabbed rainbow colors and tossed them to the ground.

Yeah, it’s a WOW!   The Carrizo Plain National Monument is a delight to the senses. Tidy tips intermingle with goldfields, and fiddlenecks. Disrupting the sea of yellow flowers are groupings of baby blue eyes, patches of magenta owl’s clover, and purple phacelia. 

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Tidy tips among the fiddlenecks and goldfields.

A walk through the carpets of goldfields to the glistening white sands of Soda Lake, provides a spectacular view of the floral covered hills north of Highway 58. Bring a few portable chairs and enjoy lunch “on the lake.”

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Soda Lake–usually a dry lake, but with water after the winter rains.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument webpage best defines the region:  “The Carrizo Plain National Monument, located 100 airline miles (160 km) from Los Angeles, is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, rimmed by steep mountains. The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, is an area culturally important to Native Americans, and is traversed by the San Andreas fault, which has created and moved mountain ranges, carved valleys and is marked by a subtle alignment of ridges, ravines and pools.”

It’s remote. There are no services. Fill your gas tank before heading out. But there is The Goodwin Education Center. That’s a good starting point to get maps to trails and points of interest like the historic pictographs at Painted Rock, or even hike along the San Andreas Fault.   

There are two semi-primative campgrounds. Next time, Gilda and us will take up residence at a campground. Camping is not reservable online.  

Check out this video about KCL campground:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp2j8JV_5rM

The campgrounds are plain, simple and free!

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The Carrizo Plain is just one of the many super bloom locales in California. Visit the EuroVan Chronicles A Day Trip to the California Super Bloom for more super bloom sites near San Luis Obispo.  If lucky while driving along Highway 58 near Shell Creek Road, you might see a herd of buffalo along the roadside.

And remember, there are rules to apply. I know, we just want to leap through the fields like the pronghorn antelope one might see in the Carrizo Plain, but that might just get you in some unexpected tangles. So:

  • Be mindful if you are trespassing on someone’s property.
  • Don’t go play with the cattle! They don’t like you. They know their fate.
  • Please step lightly through the flower fields. Try not to step on those precious gifts.
  • DON’T PICK THEM!!! Let them seed so that we can see them over and over again.
  • Watch for holes and other things that you can trip on while gawking at all that beauty.
  • And there may well be reptiles, some that rattle and bite and are just waking up and enjoying the warm sun. Stay on paths. Leave the reptiles alone. They are not friendly.
  • Bring water and snacks or lunch. Often times there are no cafes nearby. TAKE YOUR TRASH BACK WITH YOU.
  • Mostly, enjoy this special moment with nature and let it seep into your dreams.

 

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Gentle beauty

 

See more California wildflowers on my photo page, A Technicolor California Spring.

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