Begin Exploring the Carrizo Plain here
Hours and Special Closures
The Guy L. Goodwin Education Center is open seasonally from the beginning of December to the end of May. Normal days and hours of operation during those months are Thursday through Sunday, 9:00AM to 4:00PM. The education center can be contacted at 805-475-2131. Make this your first stop to receive updated information.
Informational maps and brochures are available at the front door when the center is closed. Handicapped accessible restrooms at the Education Center remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, throughout the year.
Painted Rock may be visited as part of a BLM guided tour or with a self guided tour permit, according to the calendar below. Resevations must be made at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
- March 1 to July 15: Painted Rock is available to visitation only via BLM guided tours. No other form of public visitation is allowed during this time period.
- July 16 to end of February: Self-guided tour permit is available and required for unguided public access to Painted Rock.
For details on obtaining a BLM self guided tour permit or BLM guided tour reservations please visit the Heritage Sites/Painted Rock web page.
Current weather conditions are recorded near the center of the Monument and may not reflect what is happening throughout the Carrizo. This is especially true for rainfall. Temperatures can vary around ten degrees difference depending on your location.
Weather - 10 Day Forecast from The Weather Channel
The Goodwin Education Center is located one half mile west of the junction of Painted Rock Road and Soda Lake Road. Detailed road directions to Carrizo Plain National Monument are available by following this link: road directions.
The Goodwin Education Center is located at: N 35° 11' 23.51", W 119° 51' 47.87" (35.189864, -119.863298)
Be advised that many roads in the Carrizo Plain National Monument (CPNM), are not paved and become impassable during wet weather. Please call ahead for current road conditions, 805-475-2131
This is a remote area with minimal facilities available. Handicapped accessible, public rest rooms are located at the Goodwin Education Center, Painted Rock Parking Area, Soda Lake Overlook, Selby Campground, KCL Campground and Traver Ranch (see map for locations). There is no drinking water available. The nearest public phone is in California Valley, 15 miles north of the Goodwin Education Center on Soda Lake Road. Gas is available in Taft, Maricopa and Santa Margarita. Be sure to start your trip to the CPNM with a full tank of gasoline. Emergency services are available year round at the California Division of Forestry (CDF) Station at California Valley by dialing 911. Note: Cellular phone service is not available throughout the entire Carrizo Plain.
A wide array of merchandise is available for purchase ranging from stickers and magnets to posters, books and tee shirts. Also available are checklists of the flora and fauna found within the CPNM. These lists include plants, birds, mammals, as well as amphibians and reptiles. A small fee is charged.
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.
Endangered Species Diorama
Within the boundaries of the Carrizo Plain National Monument are homes to an extremely high concentration of threatened and endangered vertebrate species. Some of these species are the San Joaquin kit fox, the blunt-nosed leopard lizard, the giant kangaroo rat, and the San Joaquin antelope squirrel (a candidate species). Examples of many of these animals can be seen in the endangered species burrow habitat, diorama. The diorama allows you to see how these special species interact with other animals and lets you explore their intricate network of underground burrows.
Wear sturdy shoes for hiking.
Bring lunch and plenty of water.
Carpool whenever possible.
Be prepared for intense heat and sun; bring a hat and sunscreen.
There is a possibility of muddy roads and changeable weather.
Pets must be controlled at all times and are not allowed at Painted Rock.
Rattlesnakes are commonly seen on the trail and at Painted Rock.
BLM Guided Tours
BLM guided tours are offered on Saturdays, from mid-March through May (weather permitting). These tours must be booked through www.recreation.gov either online or by phone at the numbers listed below.
Tours booked either by phone or online through recreation.gov will be charged a $1.50 processing fee for each reservation.
When booking online, search: Carrizo Plain National Monument, then click on "Check Availability"; then select either the "Soda Lake/Painted Rock Tour", the "Saucito Ranch Tour" or the "Painted Rock Self Guided Tour"; then follow the instructions to complete the booking process.
Recreation.gov phone numbers
Tour reservations (toll free) 1-877- 444-6777
International reservations 518-885-3639
Customer Service (toll free) 1-888-448-1474
Saucito Ranch Tour
The tours meet at the Goodwin Education Center off of Soda Lake Road at 10 a.m. and will caravan up to the ranch. Visitors should bring a sack lunch to enjoy while sitting on the ranch house veranda at the tour conclusion. The El Saucito Ranch has the distinction of having the oldest standing historic house on the Monument and is the only ranch on the monument to have been occupied from the pioneer period to modern time. Historic sites such as the El Saucito Ranch are special places that tell us a story about the heritage of California. The tour includes a short hike lead by a BLM employee around the grounds of the ranch, descriptions of the facilities and the operation of the historic ranch, and stories about the way life was 100+ years ago on the Carrizo Plain. Reservations must be made at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
2015 Tour: April 12, 2015
Soda Lake/Painted Rock Tour
The tour begins at the Soda Lake Overlook. After an introduction and brief history, the group will explore Soda Lake and the Carrizo Plain's plant communities.
Following this, the group caravans to the Painted Rock parking lot for lunch (participants provide own sack lunch). After lunch, the group hikes approximately 2/3 mile to Painted Rock. Although the path does not have a significant change in elevation, it is not handicapped accessible. Time spent within the Painted Rock alcove may be limited to protect prairie falcons or other nesting birds. The tour then returns and ends at the Goodwin Education Center.
Soda Lake / Painted Rock Tour is offered on Saturdays from mid-March to the last Saturday in May (Tours may be cancelled due to rainy weather, impassible roads and/or to protect natural resources).
Reservation must be made at www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. For additional details on booking the Soda Lake/Painted Rock Tour please visit the Heritage Sites/Painted Rock webpage.
A group at Soda Lake Overlook
Painted Rock Self Guided Tour Permit
From July 16 to the end of February a self-guided tour permit is available and required for unguided public access to Painted Rock. You must obtain a reservation at www.recreation.gov either online or by phone at the numbers listed above. For additional details on obtaining this permit please visit the Heritage Sites/Painted Rock webpage.
Geology Self Guided Tours
A self-guided, interpretive trail has been constructed at Wallace Creek and along a portion of the San Andreas fault. Brochures are available at the trail head, from the Bakersfield Office or the Education Center. Signs and a detailed brochure provide information about the San Andreas Fault and aid visitors in identifying features along this famous fault.
If you would like to learn more about the geology of the Carrizo Plain please check out these links:
Traver Ranch Self Guided Tour
We have assembled a display of old farm equipment at Traver Ranch. A self guided tour brochure is available for download.
Narrated Self Guided Tour (Podcast and Printed Text versions available)
This tour covers many of the outstanding features of the Monument:
- Introduction and History
- Stop 1: Soda Lake
- Stop 2: Goodwin Education Center
- Stop 3: Wallace Creek
Wildlife viewing opportunities change with the seasons. The links below will provide general guidelines for viewing the incredibly diverse types of wildlife that visitors may see during any given season. For more specific information you may always speak to a Carrizo staff person by calling the Bakersfield BLM office at 661-391-6000 or our Education Center at 805-475-2131 from December through May.
Wildflower Viewing Guidelines, Current Conditions & Links to Photos
Carrizo Plant List
Bakersfield Field Office: Sensitive Plant Species
Many roads on the Carrizo Plain are dirt and some are unimproved. During periods of rain, a number of roads become impassable. The main road, Soda Lake Road, is usually passable and in good driving condition. Rains may make parts of Soda Lake Road slippery or muddy at times. During and after rainy times, avoid Simmler, Panorama and other roads that cross over the valley. These roads are not passable when wet! The Caliente Ridge Road can be especially dangerous when wet and may be closed periodically during periods of heavy rain or snowfall. In the appropriate season, it's better to check with the Education Center to find out which roads are safe to travel on and which ones may be closed temporarily.
Cattle guard crossings are often rutted; cross with caution. Please do not drive off-road to avoid bumps. Off road vehicle use is prohibited throughout the entire Carrizo Plain National Monument. When roads are dry, expect a lot of dust and drive with caution accordingly. Watch for wildlife in roadways. During certain times of the year, much of the Carrizo Plain is considered open range and visitors should be prepared for livestock on roads. Drive with caution, especially after dark.
Please come prepared and use caution, especially if traveling in a passenger car. Watch for unexpected ruts and rocks that may cause flats in tires designed for highway travel. Make sure your spare is inflated and in good shape and that you have all of your tire-changing tools with you. If you have a cell phone, be sure to bring it. You may have to climb on a hill to get service but that may be a better alternative than being stranded. Services are a long distance away and a lot of time may pass before help may just "happen" by. Always bring food, water, and warm clothing along on trips in case of emergencies and start your trip with a full tank of gas.
The library at the Goodwin Education Center is available for in-house use by the public. It includes books on geology, natural history, botany, the environment, and prehistory of the Carrizo Plain.
Friends of the Carrizo
Please join us in the management and restoration of habitat on the Carrizo Plain by becoming a member of the" Friends of the Carrizo Plain". For more information and an application please write:
Friends of the Carrizo Plain
HCR 69 P.O. Box 3087
Santa Margarita, CA 93453