Matthew and Amanda
April 22-23, 2017
Until a few days before this trip, I had never heard of Carrizo Plain National Monument. As we were deciding where to go for the weekend, I browsed the map and spotted a large area of green that I hadn’t previously noticed, labeled Carrizo Plain National Monument. It is situated about 2/3 of the way to LA from San Francisco, about a four hour drive from our place. Next, I did a google image search for it, and came across some spectacular photos of hills covered with purple, yellow, and orange wildflowers. Further investigation revealed that the Monument was near the tail end of a “superbloom” of wildflowers due to the abundant spring rainfall. In addition to wildflowers, it looked like there was the opportunity for some backcountry camping, so that sealed the deal.
We started driving Saturday morning and arrived by mid afternoon. There were hordes of tourists, who probably also saw the same photos that we had. While the flowers were past peak color, there were still endless acres of bright yellow flowers. To get a better view and escape the crowds, we drove about five miles up a relatively steep dirt road leading into the mountains. We set up camp about half a mile from the car on a nice open ridge. After a short hike, we enjoyed dinner followed by a spectacular sunset. From our lofty perch we had an aerial view of the wildflower fields a few thousand feet below, and 100 miles to the east we could discern the snowy Sierra. Soon the stars and Milky Way came out and we spotted the distance hazy glow from Los Angeles.
After a generously long sleep, we headed back to the Bay Area and, after spotting a herd of buffalo along the way, arrived by mid afternoon.