Visiting the wildflowers super-bloom at Carrizo Plain National Monument in Central California
This week we drove out to the Carrizo Plain National Monument in Central California to see the spectacular display of wildflowers. We really wanted to go there after seeing beautiful photos posts from friends of the monument’s wildflower bloom. The months of March and April are the most usual months to see the wildflowers in full bloom…but because of the heavy rainfall this year, blooms will be deep into May.
The Carrizo Plain is 250,000 acres of landscape hiding between Highway 101 and Interstate 5 in southeastern San Luis Obispo County. It was declared a national monument by President Bill Clinton in 2001. The road getting there was very calming; a few ranches, winding roads and a lot of stunning views. We even saw an eagle on the way in.
Our first stop was at the Soda Lake, one of the largest alkaline lakes in California. As a result of evaporating mineral-laden surface water, a crust has formed in the lake, creating a glistening white bed of salt that has become a famous attraction at the monument.
The best way to see the monument is to drive on Soda Lake Road. We were delighted to see blankets of densest patches of gold wildflowers in different areas of the road. Just breathtaking!
It’s recommended to start your visit at the Goodwin Education Center on Soda Lake Road and get a free map. Just beware it’s only open Thursday through Sunday from 9am to 4pm and unfortunately it was closed when we arrived.
We ended up taking 7 mile road which cuts across the valley. Google Maps shows this as a dense community but we found it desolated. We did see lots of street signs but no roads or homes. Check out the street sign below that is completely overgrown with vegetation. Every street was the same, you could not recognize where the street started or ended. We still wonder what happened to this entire community. Was it undeveloped, was there a water shortage or did the San Andreas fault which runs right under this community scare everyone away. If you know, please email us as we are still wondering what happened.
Leaving 7 mile road we came across this beautiful isolated home at the edge of the mountain range. You can actually see some of the purples mixing into the landscape. Beautiful.
We did not get to see the most famous spot the “painted hill” trail of the region located at Temblor Range. It’s actually hard to find, all of the posted maps and our GPS did not find the street where we wanted to go. Here is a photo of this taken by the Bureau of Land Management California. You will need a car that can handle unpaved dirt roads.
The weather was perfect, no doubt Spring at Carrizo is one of the best times of the year. Summer temperatures can reach above 100°F (38°C) and winter temperatures can fall below freezing.
If you come on the weekend, beware, we heard there are lots of tourists. We came on a Monday and you can still see the tourists out taking pictures on the sides of the road.
Monument: (805) 475-2131
Website: Carrizo Plain National Monument
Wild Flower Hotline: Listen to recorded reports by Emmy Award-winner Joe Spano at 818 768-1802, ext. or Wildflower hot line.
Address: 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, CA 93453
We had a wonderful time at Carrizo Plain. It is just an amazing spot to visit and explore, especially during the wildflower super bloom. Just remember that the flowers are very delicate so stick and walk on the worn paths. Bring extra food and water and fill up the tank, there are no commercial businesses in the area. Looking forward to visit this place next Spring!