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, the Carrizo Plain offers visitors a rare chance to be alone with nature. Some visitors say you can "hear the silence." 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 lake bed, 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.