Description - Full of natural splendor and rich in human history, the majestic grasslands and stark ridges in the Carrizo Plain National Monument contain exceptional objects of scientific and historic interest. Since the mid-1800s, large portions of the grasslands that once spanned the entire
Copyright: - US Bureau of Land Management
View of the Carrizo Plain
four hundred mile expanse of California's nearby San Joaquin Valley and other valleys in the vicinity have been eliminated by extensive land conversion to agricultural, industrial, and urban land uses. The Carrizo Plain National Monument, which is dramatically bisected by the San Andreas Fault zone, is the largest undeveloped remnant of this ecosystem, providing crucial habitat for the long-term conservation of the many endemic plant and animal species that still inhabit the area.
In 1988, federal, state, and county agencies along with The Nature Conservancy recognized the value of preserving this region. The Conservancy first purchased 82,000 acres, and subsequently the land came under the domain of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the California Department of Fish and Game. Partners have continued land purchases increasing the size of Carrizo Plain National Monument to 250,000 acres. Three organizations jointly administer the area, which became a national monument on January 17, 2001.
- The remote and fragile area of Carrizo Plain National Monument is open to hiking, picnicking, nature study, camping, hunting, and more. A good place to acquaint oneself with the area is by visiting the Guy L. Goodwin Education Center located half a mile west of the junction of Painted Rock Road and Soda Lake Road. Up-to-date site information, exhibits, tour schedules, picnic area and restrooms are available. The center is open December thru May each Thursday through Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM. Weekend tours are available April and May to Painted Rock and Wallace Creek. The tours instruct visitors about wildflowers and other fascinating features on the Carrizo Plain. (For sightseeing on one's own, be aware that most roads are unpaved and services are a long distance away. Also be aware of natural dangers such as rattlesnakes.) For information during other months, call the BLM Field Office in Bakersfield.
South of the Goodwin Ed Center off Selby Road is one of the area's main natural attractions, Painted Rock. This stunningly beautiful area is very fragile; rock climbing (and even touching) is prohibited. Dogs are not allowed at Painted Rock.
There are four established hiking trails on the Carrizo Plain National Monument: Soda Lake, Wallace Creek, Painted Rock and the Caliente Ridge Trail that leads to the 5, 106-foot Caliente Mountain.
Many opportunities exist for birders and sightseers. Each winter, hundreds of sandhill cranes stop by on their migratory route to feed in nearby grain fields and to roost in Soda Lake. The Carrizo Plain National Monument has recently been designated a globally important bird area by the American Bird Conservancy. Additionally, it is home to the largest concentration of endangered wildlife in all of California.
With its vast open spaces, horseback riding is an excellent way to see the Carrizo Plain National Monument. However, there are a number of items that equestrians should be aware of including limited water and permits for groups of 20 or more. Call the BLM Bakersfield Field Office for details. See Contact Information for phone number.
Currently, the Carrizo Plain National Monument has two designated campgrounds: KCL (south of Washburn Ranch) and Selby (south of Painted Rock). Camping is on a first-come, first-served basis and no reservations are required or taken.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument offers a wide variety of hunting opportunities. Nearly all areas are open to hunting with the exception of a large safety zone surrounding the Goodwin Education Center and Painted Rock, all designated campgrounds, management facilities and ranches, all pullouts, Soda Lake, Travers Ranch and Wallace Creek. Wildlife populations include California quail, chukar, cottontail rabbit, deer, Tule elk and wild or feral pigs. Varmint hunting is legal for coyote, feral pig, California ground squirrel and black-tailed jackrabbit.
Handicapped accessible restrooms are located at the Goodwin Education Center and at the Painted Rock Parking Area. Portable toilets are available at Overlook, Selby Campground, KCL Campground and Traver's Ranch.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities at the Carrizo Plain National Monument entail picnicking, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, bird watching, wildflower viewing, horseback riding, and hunting.
Climate - The Carrizo Plain National Monument lies within a very remote region, null of water, fuel, or services. Most precipitation is received between November and April. Wet roads can become impassable. Summer days are usually hot an dry with cool nights and low humidity. Wintertime day temperatures are typically warm with nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument is located roughly between Bakersfield and San Luis Obispo; between Highways 58 and 166.