Carrizo Plain National Monument

Quick Facts

Carrizo Plain National Monument

California

(661) 391-6000

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Carrizo Plain National Monument, located 100 airline miles (160 km) 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, rimmed 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. The Goodwin Education Center offers the visitor interpretive displays and exhibits explaining the uniqueness of the Carrizo Plain and the adjoining Elkhorn Plain, where "the closer you look, the more you see." Here you will learn about the endangered plants and animals of the San Joaquin Valley, the geology of the San Andreas Fault, the human history of Painted Rock and its significance to Native Americans and the farming and ranching history of the area. A diorama as well as interactive interpretive displays are available for visitor education. A breathtaking mural of the Carrizo Plain and its animal and plant life, painted by Santa Barbara artist John Iwerks, focuses attention on the diversity and complexity of life on the Plain. Recreational activities you can enjoy include camping, hiking and trail riding (bicycle and horse), hunting, wildlife viewing and enjoying cultural exhibits.

Map of Carrizo Plain

Latitude, Longitude: 35.133387, -119.772949

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    Biking in the Carrizo Plain National Monument is a great way to see many of its hidden beauties while getting in a good workout! Keep in mind that much of the park is sensitive habitat, therefore bicycles are allowed on existing roads only. Livestock trails are not considered roads and are closed to bicycle use.

    Be aware that winter rains make roads very slick and impassable within the park. During these times access to most trails will not be available.

  • Camping

    The Carrizo Plain National Monument has two improved campgrounds, KCL Campground and Selby Campground. Camping is available on a first come, first served basis. Open camping is also an option within certain areas of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Please contact the park to learn where open camping is permitted.

  • Hiking

    There are six established hiking trails on the Carrizo Plain National Monument : Soda Lake trail and boardwalk, Overlook Hill, Wallace Creek, Painted Rock, the Caliente Ridge trail and the Caliente Mountain Access Trail.

  • Horseback Riding

    With its vast open spaces, horseback riding is an excellent way to see the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Contact the park for rules and regulations regarding horses.

  • Hunting

    The Carrizo Plain National Monument have hunting as a popular activity. The monument is located in condor habitat and is a lead-free zone. Non-lead bullets are required.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Wildlife viewing opportunities change with the seasons. Some of the larger mammals that visitors may see include pronghorn antelope, coyote, desert cottontail, and ground squirrels. Tule elk, mountain lion and black-tailed deer are also found in the park but are seen less often.

Park Partners

Friends of the Carrizo Plain

The Mission of the Friends of the Carrizo Plain is to support the managing partners in the Education, Interpretation, and Conservation of the unique resources of the Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Directions

Driving

Do not rely on Google Maps, MapQuest or the mapping software in your car GPS to get you here. YOU WILL BE LED ASTRAY. Please follow the recommended routes below.

Soda Lake Road, which bisects the 37 mile length Carrizo Plain National Monument, is the only reliable road. About 18 miles of Soda Lake Road's length is paved, the remaining 19 miles is dirt. The dirt portion of Soda Lake Road is south of the Goodwin Education Center. Soda Lake Road is well maintained and safe for low clearance vehicles. But you need to be alert to unsigned curves, cattle guards and loose gravel.

From Los Angeles, travel north on Interstate Highway 5. From the Grapevine, at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, you will travel about 42 miles north to Exit 257. Take State Highway 58 west (left) toward Buttonwillow / McKittrick. In 16 miles SH-58 intersects SH-33; turn left and pass through McKittrick. In 2.6 miles turn right and leave SH-33, continue on SH-58 west, up and over the Temblor Range. In 27.5 miles turn left (south) on Soda Lake Road toward California Valley and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. In 7.6 miles you will arrive at the boundary of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. As you travel south on Soda Lake Road be sure to pull off at overlook hill and the Soda Lake boardwalk. Seven miles from the boundary, a dirt road heads west (right) 1/2 mile to the Goodwin Education Center.

From Bakersfield and Fresno, take State Highway 58 (Rosedale Highway) west from State Highway 99. At Interstate Highway 5 continue west toward Buttonwillow / McKittrick. In 16 miles SH-58 intersects SH-33; turn left and pass through McKittrick. In 2.6 miles turn right and leave SH-33, continue on SH-58 west, up and over the Temblor Range. In 13.9 miles turn left (south) on Soda Lake Road toward California Valley and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. In 7.6 miles you will arrive at the boundary of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. As you travel south on Soda Lake Road be sure to pull off at overlook hill and the Soda Lake boardwalk. Seven miles from the boundary, a dirt road heads west (right) 1/2 mile to the Goodwin Education Center.

From the Central Coast, take US Highway 101 to Santa Margarita (which is located half-way between Atascadero and San Luis Obispo). From Santa Margarita take State Highway 58 east about 40 miles turn right (south) on Soda Lake Road toward California Valley and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. In 7.6 miles you will arrive at the boundary of the Carrizo Plain National Monument. As you travel south on Soda Lake Road be sure to pull off at overlook hill and the Soda Lake boardwalk. Seven miles from the boundary, a dirt road heads west (right) 1/2 mile to the Goodwin Education Center.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(661) 391-6000

Links