I spent more time at the Wind Wolves Preserve than expected, so as I was leaving at 4:45 I debated whether to go check out the Carrizo Plain National Monument or to drive back home. The directions I had made it seem pretty close by so I figured what the heck. It turned out to be a longer drive than I had anticipated so after a certain point I didn’t think that I would get there before dark. I did manage to get to the Soda Lake Overlook about 1.5 hours later and there was enough light to walk up to the top of the overlook take a few pictures then drive along Soda Lake Road looking for wildflowers.
This was my first visit to the Carrizo Plain so I was surprised at how remote this place was. It’s located in a high valley between two mountain ranges. I met one lady there but otherwise all I heard was crickets and birds out there. From what I could tell, there weren’t even farms or anything for miles. I found out later while Googling that the Carrizo Plain is the largest remaining area of native California grassland left and is also the easiest place to view the San Andreas Fault.
After photographing wildflowers in Kern County earlier in the day, a landscape that is dotted with agriculture fields, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old John Muir books where he talked about how the Central Valley used to be a sea of wildflowers as far as the eye could see. Aside from small pockets of protected landscapes there is little of the natural landscape left. Visiting the Carrizo Plain by comparison felt like a trip back in time.