Carrizo Plain National Monument
February 25-26, 2006
This weekend Todd and I went to Carrizo Plain and there we met 4wheelbob and his
wife Gina.  We hiked out to Painted Rock which is one of the most significant rock art
sites in North America.  The native Chumash people painted the rock between 200 and
3,000 years ago.  Painted Rock is near the Goodwin Education Center but access is
limited between March 1 and July 15 because of nesting birds.  All of my previous
visits to Carrizo were in March so I had never seen the rock.

Painted Rock is part of an outcrop area of Miocene-age cross-bedded marine
sandstone (about 20 million years old) that sits in isolation along the western side of
the Carrizo Plain. It is a large U-shaped amphitheater-like outcrop (about 55 feet high
and 300 feet in circumference) with an east-facing alcove in its center. The
pictographs are mainly red and black and have been damaged by natural erosion as well
as graffiti but are still considered world-class examples of native art.  No where else
is there such a large collection of Chumash pictographs.
After our short hike to the rock (1.4 miles round trip) we ate some lunch then
moseyed on over to Selby Campground.  Selby Campground sits a little ways above the
Plain and so there are great views.   There were only two other groups camped there,
one of which was a party of wild pig hunters.  They reported that they'd seen no pigs,
just coyotes.

Bob, his dog Tasha, and I took a pre-dinner hike up a trail towards Caliente Peak.  We
didn't get too far, however we did start up a small hill we dubbed "Little Caliente
Peak."  Tashia's fur was a magnet for all the stickery bushes and since she got some
chia flower heads stuck on her I gave her the trail name "Chia Dog."  :)

We made dinner and had a great fire and conversation that night.  Once we heard
coyotes far off in the distance and as it got dark it got cold.   But it seemed to warm
up during the night as a cloud cover moved in.
Painted Rock is on the upper right
I loved the dramatic red against black coloring here
A man with horns?
A lizard?
Is that the sun on the left?
A turtle?
Birds watch over the plains near Painted Rock
Carrizo Plain National Monument
I do believe this is a Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard!
It is an endangered species
And more info from the FWS
2010 trip to Carrizo Plain
2008 trip to Carrizo Plain
2005 trip to Carrizo Plain
2003 trip to Carrizo Plain
More about Carrizo Plain
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Caliente Ridge as seen from the vicinity of Selby Campground
4wheelbob and Chia Dog
Golden Bush Flower, one of the only
flowers I saw this weekend
In the morning we ate breakfast and packed up and then headed separate ways.  Todd
and I drove up to Caliente Ridge and a little beyond.  Here there are great views of a
huge chunk of mountains and valleys with not much of anything else.  Gotta love that :)

Then we drove back down to the Plain and south to the Panorama Road.  This road is not
for those that don't have at least high clearance if not 4wd.  We crossed the Plain
then continued east on the Hurricane or Crocker Springs Road and went up and over
the San Andreas Fault and the Temblor Range.  On the backside we found a few
ancient cottonwood trees in a draw and there we ate a picnic lunch.  A little further on
we saw pronghorn antelope!  The first antelope that I've ever seen in California and
the first I've seen since leaving Wyoming :)

Then we went by Taft and on down into Bakersfield.  The flowers on the way were
spectacular!  Since we saw next to none in Carrizo Plain it was nice to see huge carpets
of goldfields near Buena Vista Lake.
Selby Road
Selby Campground as seen from high above on Caliente Ridge
Soda Lake as seen from high above on Caliente Ridge
Caliente Peak is the highest peak in San Luis Obispo County
To hike to it is an 16 mile round-trip
4wheelbob wants to try it sometime and I may just have to go with him!
Old cottonwoods in the Temblor Range
The bees were a buzzin round the new
cottonwood flowers!