Corbitt's National Parks
     Carrizo Plain
                National Monument


2001: National Monument

Size: 204,107 acres

2008 visitors: ?

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

Full of natural splendor and rich in human history, the grasslands and stark ridges of the Carrizo Plain National Monument contain exceptional objects of scientific and historic interest. Cut in half by the San Andreas Fault zone, the Carrizo Plain National Monument is the largest undeveloped remnant of the San Joaquin ecosystem, providing crucial habitat for long-term conservation of the many native plant and animal species that still inhabit the area.

The Carrizo Plain, 100 miles from Los Angeles, is an area by-passed by time. Soda Lake, its centerpiece, is a glistening bed of white salt, set within a vast open grassland, surrounded by steep mountains. The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, is an area culturally important to Native Americans, and is traversed by the San Andreas fault, which has created and moved mountain ranges, carved valleys and is marked by a subtle alignment of ridges, ravines and pools. Its preservation is vital to the survival of this habitat and the wildlife it supports.

What You're Going to See

This is California dry-range, so what you see will depend on the time of year you visit. After rains you'll find abundant wildflowers and plenty of animals and birds.

Personal Observations

I haven't been here yet. This is another new National Monument administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM's purpose and calling is subtly different from that of the National Park Service. The BLM must juggle competing interests, including mineral rights, grazing and hunting rights, and public recreation, and try to keep everyone happy to boot. I don't envy the job. Expect to find the Monument still undeveloped, thought a Management Plan is set to be released in the fall of 2004.

The Bakersfield Home Office of the BLM administers Carrizo Plain, and if there's a stamp, it's probably there. But I'm just guessing. I also don't know how many visitors the Monument gets, since I don't know if the BLM tracks that.

Getting There

Carrizo Plain lies 40 miles east of San Luis Obispo. You will want to approach the Monument from the east, away from the Caliente Range. Use Highways 33 and 58 to access dirt roads into the Monument.

Nearby Attractions

Channel Islands National Park is about 80 miles south, and the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is close to the east, just above Los Angeles. Sequoia National Park is about 100 miles northeast, on the other side of Bakersfield.