Carrizo Plain National Monument

Located in California’s Central Valley, Carrizo Plain features the largest natural alkali wetland in southern California, the San Andreas Fault Line, and remarkable and diverse communities of plants and animals.

As declared by President Clinton upon the establishment of Carrizo Plain: "Full of natural splendor and rich in human history, the majestic grasslands and stark ridges in the Carrizo Plain National Monument contain exceptional objects of scientific and historic interest." The monument features many important Native American cultural resources (including Painted Rock) and endangered and threatened species (including the California kit fox and burrowing owl). During a super bloom, there are few places in the world more astoundingly colorful than Carrizo Plain National Monument.

There are several easy and interesting trails, including Wallace Creek San Andreas Fault Line Trail, Soda Lake Overlook, and Painted Rock Trail.

This is a remarkable place to explore, camp, find solitude, see wildlife and world-class wildflowers, reflect upon cultural heritage, and thoroughly enjoy.



17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, off of Highway 33/166

Managed By

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy.

Distance from UCSB

168 mi (by car)

How To Get There


Things To Do

Biking (mountain), Birdwatching, Camping, Hiking, Historic/Cultural Interest, Horseback Riding, Picnicking, Relaxing, Running, Viewing (wildflowers, mountains), Walking, Watchable Wildlife

Fun Facts

Carrizo Plain was the first California location to re-introduce the native Tule Elk and Pronghorn Antelope. Designated a Globally-Significant Important Bird Area by Audubon, in the winter, Carrizo attracts abundant migratory shorebirds and waterfowl because of Soda Lake and surrounding wetlands.

Carrizo Plain is traversed by the San Andreas Fault, which can be seen quite clearly.

Other Information

There is a great Recreation Map & Guide for the National Monument.

The road and wildflower conditions information line is 805-475-2035. To arrange a tour of Painted Rock/Soda Lake visit this site or call 877-444-6777.

The Friends of the Carrizo Plain have an informative website, which includes maps, videos, checklists (of mammals, reptiles, etc.), and more.

I want to thank my outstanding former students, Samuel Desre and Christian Puga Teran, for their wonderful photos of the Pronghorn antelope, Tule elk and winter landscapes.

The monument has two accessible campground sites in the KCL Campground and the vault toilets are ADA compliant.

For additional information, here is an excellent, delightful and informative description of camping and exploring Carrizo Plain.

Nearby Public Lands Worth Visiting

Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve (Managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Best Time To Visit

Spring, Winter, Fall

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