We started seeing wildflowers along the road long before reaching our destination.
When John Muir wrote about the wildflowers of California, people in other parts of the country didn't believe him.
Sauntering in any direction, my feet would brush about a hundred flowers with every step... as if I were wading in liquid gold-- John Muir describing the Central Valley of California in the spring of 1868
It is said that the place that comes closest to what Muir saw is the Carrizo Plain. While the northern section of the Soda Lake road is paved, the rest is unpaved and the better display in this drought year was in the southern section, down this well graded and maintained dirt road.
Here the bright yellow goldfields catch your eye and if you stay in the car that is all you will see.
If you get out and look, you find a great variety of flowers growing among the goldfields.
The rangers said that this had been a poor year with many varieties not blooming at all but it was still a sight worth seeing.
The thistle sage plant really does look a lot like a thistle but the flower is much different and very pretty.
If the wildflowers weren't enough, this is a good place to see evidence of the San Andreas fault. The fault runs along the front edge of the temblor range seen here in the distance and if you drive over to the elkhorn road on that far side of the plain you can see an offset of Wallace creek where it crosses the San Andreas. The west end of the creek has move north relative to the east end of the creek.
We didn't go over to Wallace creek but we hope to in the future. The only facilities in the monument are some primitive campgrounds and the visitor center. There is also a self guided trail at Wallace creek.
For more information about Carrizo Plain National Monument, click here.
Next month look for a photo journey to Yosemite, one of our favorite places, a place we try to visit every spring and fall.