“Superbloom” is the buzzword this Spring: the wildflowers of the Carrizo Plain are prolifically blooming after heavy rainfall this Winter. I decided to see what all the buzz was about, and on Monday, April 3, 2017, I made my maiden trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument in California’s Central Valley.
As a Science teacher and amateur naturalist, I’d always wanted to go to the plain. Its birds, wildlife, and annual wildflower blooms beckoned, but equally luring was the San Andreas Fault, which passes through the valley like rumpled carpet. I love Geology, and as a teacher of Plate Tectonics, had Wallace Creek on my bucket list. This famous creek shows how the San Andreas Fault has offset the creek over time.
This was such an awesome trip, I am mostly going to let the pictures speak for themselves. I wish I had a nicer camera to really capture the beauty! You simply have to experience it for yourself to really appreciate it. It’s a dream to experience such temporary beauty, in such sacred, recharging silence. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!
I rented a Dodge Dart in Santa Cruz (my car is having issues), and hit the road around 8:15 a.m. Driving South on Highway 101, I could see many wildflowers on the hillsides. Once I hit Paso Robles, I veered off some country roads toward Highway 58. There was a crescendo of color greeting me, each turn through the rolling, verdant hills inviting me further.
I turned on Seven Mile Road toward Wallace Creek. After driving about three and a half hours, I was ready to get out of the car and hike around. I made the short hike up to the creek site, and enjoyed the breathtaking scenery.
The silence was beautiful, golden like the hills. The sun shone with brilliant radiance, warming my skin. A pair of ravens flew in tandem over the thermals of the creek; a lizard made its appearance on a hot rock.
After exploring Wallace Creek, I departed for the west side of the valley. Simmler Road is a gravel road, laden with playa dust, which covers everything. The views here were incredible.
I stopped briefly at the Visitor’s Center, where there were some tri-colored blackbirds socializing in a cottonwood tree. There were two porta-potties, a small visitor’s education building, but no running water here. I knew to bring extra, and definitely needed it in the hot, dry weather.
I drove up to Caliente Ridge, testing my poor rental car’s capabilities over potholes, divots, and questionable washed out sections. Ascending up from the valley floor, climbing to over 4,000′ of elevation presented a gorgeous, vibrant landscape resembling a painting. The expansive views were absolutely breathtaking. I unloaded my bike, and set out on the Caliente Ridge Trail.
After a nice ride along the Caliente Ridge Trail to Caliente Mountain, I descended back down into the valley up Soda Lake Road.
I stopped at Soda Lake for some last shots before heading out, feeling happily content and tired from the full day.
On the way out, I was lucky to see some antelope run through the valley (see the video below of them bounding through the fields).
I will be back someday again to walk among these heavenly fields. I hope you get a chance to see the Spring bloom at least once in your lifetime; you’ll be glad you did!