Monday, April 23, 2007

A Trip to the Carrizo Plain

Sunday I went for a long (~350 miles) afternoon drive, heading over the mountains and into the Carrizo Plain National Monument, a little-known valley in the southeastern corner of San Luis Obispo County that preserves a large stretch of native grassland.

On the way out, I passed through the western corner of the Antelope Valley on CA-138, where there were some pretty neat clouds coming off of the mountains.
I don't know what this property was, but they had a lot of bones in their fence.
I got off I-5 at CA-166 and took this photo looking south at Wheeler Ridge from the overpass.
Finally I reached the Carrizo Plain (the south entrance) with about an hour left before the sun went down.
Only about half of Soda Lake Road is paved; the rest is passable by an ordinary 2WD vehicle, but it's rocky enough to be annoying.
The Carrizo Plain is extremely serene; my whole time there I saw only two other vehicles.
I think this sign means "watch for tule elk." I didn't see any of them, but I did see a pronghorn antelope, which Wikipedia says is the second-fastest land animal on earth (58 mph, slower only than a cheetah). CORRECTION: Upon further review, I'm pretty sure this is a sign warning of pronghorn, not of tule elk. These folks agree. I think they chose a weird angle on the horns for the silhouette.)
You can, of course, add pronghorns to the list of animals I've seen in the wild. The one I saw was crossing the road. It saw my car and quickly ran away before I could take a photo. This is what one looks like (photo from Wikipedia).
Incidentally, there's been something of a controversy with the CPNM over the past few weeks, as the Wilderness Society wanted to nominate the area as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but some locals thought this would lead to further restrictions on their land. The Board of Supervisors voted against supporting the nomination, and they received criticism from some circles for passing up a possible worldwide recognition.

You can follow the debate in the San Luis Obispo Tribune's pages here, here, here, here, here, and here.


At Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 10:15:00 PM PDT, Anonymous doafy said...

That's totally awesome, Adam. Your pictures remind me of when we went camping out on BLM land when I was home one Christmas break from college. Which mountains were those, the Orocopias?

I love the landscape in California!

At Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at 10:40:00 PM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Yeah, that was the Orocopia Mountains. Of course, that was desert, and this was a grassland.

At Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 6:22:00 PM PDT, Anonymous doafy said...

True, but they're definite similarities

At Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 8:20:00 PM PDT, Anonymous doafy said...

Shoot. That should've been there're, which is not a real contraction, I think. Why didn't you edit that, dude?

At Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 12:42:00 PM PDT, Anonymous missy said...

Hey I've been thinking about going to Carrizo so your site was very useful to get a feel. Thanks a bunch!

At Sunday, April 29, 2012 at 10:29:00 AM PDT, Blogger lrgvanman said...

That was one of my favorite road trips and I miss it. Been sooo long that I haven't visited. The complex with all the bones on the fence looked to my like an old school but after searching online for info, I finally gave up. Forgot the cross road location but...

At Saturday, July 7, 2012 at 3:05:00 PM PDT, Anonymous bigrand said...

Loved your blog and pics of the Carrizo Plain, Adam! I REALLY enjoyed that! I've lived here in So. Cal. all my life (51 years) and never heard of this place or anyone who's mentioned going there! Now I gotta go! What a place!! Don't tell anyone else, and keep it our secret! :D


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