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The Carrizo Plain

Welcome Sign at the South Entrance

My friend Bill Korn and I have been talking about seeing the wildflower blooms at the Carrizo Plain for several years now. As long as I worked doing taxes, however, I was never able to go before April 15; and by that time, the show was all over. Now, being retired, I jumped at the chance. Bill and I met at a Western Bagel in Valencia—he started his trip in far-off Altadena—and we set out in his Prius.

On the way, we passed through Frazier Park and the high country around Mount Pinos before descending some four thousand feet to the level of the Carrizo Plain.

The AT&T Cable Runs Through the Park

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is different from most national parks I have visited. There is no one to collect admission fees at the entrances, and no park rangers were in evidence (though I suspect they exist). Though it was a Monday, there were a lot of cars, particular in the northern part of the park. Most of the action is along the main route called Soda Lake Road that runs the length of the park, paved for approximately half its length, and oiled dirt and gravel for the other half. There were numerous dirt roads that led to subsistence ranches and places that were inaccessible because of deep mud lingering from the heavy rains earlier in the year.

One interesting feature of the park is that Soda Lake Road runs side by side with the San Andreas Fault. I plan to write about this tomorrow if I have the time.

Wildflowers in Great Abundance

This park is probably the largest single section of California grassland that is more or less intact. I didn’t get the feeling that the few ranches we passed made much of a negative impact on the wildness of the place.

Wildflowers Close Up

I will not soon forget the beauty of the Carrizo Plain. I hope I can return some day after another spectacular peak wildflower bloom.

 

5 thoughts on “The Carrizo Plain

  1. I grew up near there, down in the oil fields. We used to go to the Carrizo Plain to collect wild mushrooms in the spring. My family originally settled as cattle ranchers in Cholame in the 19th century. Very austere, beautiful country.

  2. Yes, on Highway 46 at Jack’s ranch, right before the turnoff to Parkfield. My ancestors had a cattle ranch near Parkfield and drove their cattle up the valley along the foothills to Stockton. There is a “Cahill” street named after them in San Jose.

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