Destination: Carrizo Plain National Monument, CA

Destination: Carrizo Plain National Monument, CA

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I’m typically the one who initiates going on a trip, so when Corey suggested that we go camp out for a night at Joshua Tree again, I was beyond excited! I don’t know if he had thought it through and actually had an intention of going, but I took the idea and ran with it. I only had two days off in between my long span of work days and then I’d be leaving for Zion. It’s short amount of time to recharge but what’s a better way to refresh than to go on a little trip?!? Plus it’s some quality time with my loves before I completely ditch them for an adventure with my girlfriends 😉

The next morning I happened to come across a photo posted by the Dept of Interior of the “Superbloom” moving further north in California. The photo was taken at Carrizo Plain National Monument, just 3 hours from our home! Corey and I had thoughts about going to Anza Borrego or Lake Elsinore to see the superbloom the past couple of weeks, but we lost all interest in going after hearing about the large crowds/lines of people trampling and picking bouquets of flowers. Seeing that Carrizo Plain was just beginning to get hype, we knew we had to go ASAP to beat the rush. So instead of going to Joshua Tree we made a change of plans and decided on a making a trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument to see the Superbloom!

I got super excited! I spent my work days researching the area, checking and rechecking the weather. Rain had been forecasted for all of Friday and Saturday. This normally wouldn’t be much of a problem, but only one (actually ½ of one) road in Carrizo Plain National Monument is paved. I saw plenty of warnings of other roads being impassable in wet conditions. A part of me wanted to call the trip off, but a part of me was even more excited of the unique adventure. I guess I was just scared that the rain would affect how Corey and Duke would enjoy the trip. I didn’t want to feel like I was dragging them along. I brought up the chance of rain and impassable conditions with Corey to gauge whether it would be a better idea to call this trip off. Corey didn’t seem to mind the potential conditions one bit and said we can always adapt our plans to the weather once we actually get there. More the reason to love this guy…

I ended up using a few hours of PTO to leave work early Friday morning and after running a few errands we were on our way to the superbloom! The drive was pretty smooth and uneventful. To anyone planning a trip out there, research where the closest gas station is! We had to turn around from McKittrick back to Taft to top off on gas which added another hour in total! We didn’t mind too much and used the opportunity to load up on snacks! We were on our way before we knew it.

It wasn’t hard to tell when we were approaching Carrizo Plain National Monument. The wildflowers were so prominent all around us! Seriously, our jaws dropped and we were so excited to turn every corner. We stopped to take some photos but were eager to make our way to the park too.

Hello, Carrizo!

As soon as we started our drive down the main road of the park, Soda Lake Road, we both realized that a ton of other people planned on “beating the weekend rush” just like us. There were plenty of cars lining the roads near Soda Lake and the parking in the Visitor’s center was already full! 

Seeing that we didn’t have any sort of gameplan for this trip and everything was dependent on weather, we decided to get more information on road conditions and make some sort of a plan at the Visitor’s Center. The rangers pointed me to a road to get us closer to Temblor Range and reassured me that we’d be fine through the night’s rain showers with our Rav4 in the backcountry. Seeing the massive amount of people already in the park this early on a Friday, we didn’t even bother to check out the campgrounds (which are free!) and slowly made our way towards Temblor Range instead. If you’re planning on venturing around Carrizo Plain National Monument, I highly recommend doing research on the weather from previous days and how it may affect road conditions and/or stopping by the Visitor’s Center to get the most recent updates as well.

Although we did see some roads that were closed off, we didn’t run into any trouble during our stay!

Driving around Soda Lake with the rain coming in made way for some awesome photos!


Standing on salt at Soda Lake
Look at the horizon of wildflowers!


We drove down Elkhorn Road for about 45 minutes until we found a nice a secluded spot with some great views. At this point, we were so far out that seeing a car on the road was always a surprise. We had picked this spot because of the amazing 360 degree views. Behind us was Temblor Range, and in front of us was Carrizo Plain with the Caliente Mountains behind it. We were also near only hill in sight giving us a great view of the plain. Seeing that the rain was rolling in, we made camp for evening and saved hiking up the hill for the next morning. 

The rest of our day was as relaxing as it could get. We enjoyed some fetch with the boy, a luxurious freeze dried dinner, and some down time in our tent listening to the rain! Nights like this will never get old!


This was not staged…. haha
Better than my home cooked meals!

I don’t think I’ve ever slept better while camping. The temps were perfect and the rain was like a natural sound machine. We were in no rush to get up in the morning and totally gave up our plans to see the sunrise. Once we actually decided to roll out of our sleeping bags, we took our sweet time making some breakfast and packing up camp just as the clouds were clearing.

The only thing that dampened our experience were these these dried out desert weeds that looked like very stiff strands of grass. We noticed that Duke’s paws were red and swollen after fetch and it turns out that he had a ton of these lodged into his paws! He’s so crazy that he just kept fetching and didn’t show any signs of being in pain. Even in the morning he was bugging us like crazy to play fetch again! This time I put his dog booties on, but not even 5 minutes later he had already lost one. It took at least 30 minutes of us walking in circles and it wasn’t until after I called off the search that Corey found it!

Lovely view of our campsite while I’m off looking for Duke’s bootie

After that whole ordeal was done with, we finally set off to explore! Our first stop was the giant hill near our site!

Corey and Duke at the top!
My car is parked to the right of my head. It looks so tiny!
Duke looking pretty
Always eating stuff he shouldn’t be eating
Just a boy and his dog
I hate how photogenic he is!
This boy loves a good view
Found the prettiest ladybugs while heading back to the car

After messing around for a while, we decided to actually go check out the wildflowers! This time we were going to drive straight up Elkorn Road which goes north along Temblor Range and leads us out of the park.


We saw some chill cows along the way
And at last, the wildflowers!!!!
One of my favorite shots taken with my new camera
Experimenting with the new camera and totally creeping on this cute couple



At one point there were so many cars coming into the park that I got tired of pulling over to let them pass. Instead we decided to take the most sketchiest least traveled road we could find. Ta da!!!!
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