- Photo Ops
- Something Different
California has many stunning places to see spring wildflowers, but for travelers looking for new experiences, a visit to the Carrizo Plain National Monument is a must-do.
Carrizo Plain, located between San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield, is spring wildflower heaven. At 250,000 acres, it’s the most significant remaining native grassland in California, but its remoteness means it’s still relatively unknown and uncrowded. But during spring blooms, and especially in “super bloom” years, you’ll see an unforgettable, spectacular show of wildflowers. In addition to well-known flowers like the Hillside Daisy or California Poppy, you’ll find rare species growing here.
Although the area is remote, Native Americans lived here thousands of years ago. You can see some of the evidence they left behind at Painted Rock. With its dunes and dried salt, Soda Lake is another unique landscape worth visiting.
Did we mention this is a remote area? For travelers from the Bay Area or Sacramento, your best bet for lodging is in Santa Margarita (60 miles away) or San Luis Obispo (70 miles away). When you visit the monument, make sure you have a full gas tank and plenty of food and water. Note that the roads can be rough, especially if it has rained recently.
Drive to Santa Margarita or San Luis Obispo on Friday. On Saturday, pack a lunch and everything else you might need to spend the entire day at Carrizo Plain. Then, return to town for dinner. On Sunday, explore Santa Margarita or San Luis Obispo before driving home.
See our San Luis Obispo getaway for an expanded trip.
Things to Do
- View and photograph wildflowers! Check the wildflower report online or call the hotline at (805) 475-2035.
- Spread out your blanket for an incredibly scenic picnic.
- Learn about the history of the plain and view interactive displays at the Goodwin Education Center.
- See fascinating Native American pictographs at Painted Rock.
- Walk the Soda Lake boardwalk.
When to Go
The peak spring wildflower season runs from mid-March through April. In a good year, the season extends into May.
Carrizo Plain is free to visit.