Tuesday – May 31, 2016
Carrizo Plains National Monument
Selby BLM Campground
Santa Margarita, California
Our travel from Barstow, California towards Cayucos, California on CA-58 was uneventful. When we reached Tehachapi, California (some miles east of Bakersfield) we were treated to magnificent views of the surrounding mountains. This is the Tehnachapi Summit, elevation 4064 feet. The summit is marked just east of the town. The eastbound descent is gradual and spread out over a great distance. The westbound descent from where the summit is marked begins with almost 3 miles of nearly flat road. At this point there are warning signs – "Trucks—steep grade and sharp curves ahead" and "Steep grade next 14 miles." The total descent is almost 22 miles in length, with 55-mph curves and 4% to 6% grades. Make sure you have good brakes traveling through this region of California!
Forty-three miles east of Santa Margarita on CA-58, we discovered free camping at the Selby BLM Campground located within the Carrizo Plains National Monument. This will be our home-base for two nights.
Three hundred years ago, California’s Central Valley was vast grassland where antelope and elk grazed and wildflowers swept the spring landscape. Today, amid urban and agriculture development, a remnant remains in the Carrizo Plain National Monument.
Carrizo Plain National Monument is one of the best kept secrets in California. Only a few hours from Los Angeles, (43 miles East of Santa Margarita on California Highway 58), the Carrizo Plain offers visitors a rare chance to be alone with nature. The plain is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species including several listed as threatened or endangered and is an area culturally important to Native Americans.
This remote monument, traversed by the San Andreas Fault, which has carved valleys, created and moved mountains, and yet up close, is seen in subtle alignment of ridges, ravines and normally dry ponds. Prominent features on the monument include the white alkali flats of Soda Lake, Painted Rock, vast open grasslands, and a broad plain rimmed by mountains. When conditions are right, numerous wildflowers can carpet the valley floor; although short lived it can be breathtaking.
Soda Lake, normally a dry lakebed, is one of the dominant geographic features of the Carrizo Plain. It is the largest remaining natural alkali wetland in southern California and the only closed basin within the coastal mountains. As its name suggests, Soda Lake concentrates salts as water evaporates, leaving white deposits of sulfates and carbonates that look like baking soda.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.
Departed: Yermo, California
Departure Time: 9:55 A.M.
Arrived: Carrizo Plains National Monument
Arrival Time: 5:55 P.M.
Latitude: N 35.12783
Longitude: W 119.84171
Elevation: 2547 Feet
Camping Fee: Free
Campsite Hookups: None
Campground Amenities: Water Spigots, Vault Toilets, Picnic Tables, Grills
Total Campsites: 13
Cellular Service: Verizon – No Service
Internet Service: Verizon Jetpack – No Service
Dish TV Satellite Service: Spotty Service
Total miles traveled today: 235
South on Interstate 15
West on California Highway 58
South on Soda Lake Road (15.5 miles)
West on Selby Road to Campground (4.5-mile gravel road)