Carrizo Plain National Monument in Bloom

May 20, 2019



Photographer: Ray Boren 
Summary Author: Ray Boren 

Blessed during the winter with drought-busting precipitation, Southern California exploded this spring with an eye-popping wildflower display, illustrated in the photograph above, taken on April 12, 2019. The image shows Carrizo Plain National Monument’s Temblor Range blanketed with sunny yellow hillside daisies (Monolopia lanceolata). A second photo from that visit shows other slopes, just north of the park along California State Route 58, splashed mostly with contrasting purple owl’s clover (Castilleja exserta) and more hillside daisies.

Like the bordering hills, the grasslands in the national monument’s center also have been carpeted with wildflowers. They line the shores of the park’s northern Soda Lake, which is currently flush with water but generally dry. And vast open tracts are decorated with goldfield blossoms (Lasthenia californica) and California coreopsis (Leptosyne californica); white-fringed but mostly yellow tidy tips (Layia platyglossa); and small, purple (with sprinkles of white) phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia). The latter, at one location and in their multitude, look much like a lake or pond is shimmering in the near distance, not flowers!

Carrizo’s Temblor Range is aptly named: It rumples the national monument’s northeastern flank (the bracketing Caliente Range rises across the plain to the southwest) — and at the Temblors’ base sits California’s infamous San Andreas Fault, a deep system more than 800 miles long (1287 km) that marks the clashing boundary between Earth’s Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The fault traverses the Carrizo Plain, northwest to southeast. Displacements and drops are visible in many places, as at a barren sag pond along the central Soda Lake Road.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: NIKON D3500; Exposure Time: 0.0031s (1/320); Aperture: ƒ/9.0; ISO equivalent: 100; Focal Length (35mm): 105. Bottom - same except: Exposure Time: 0.0020s (1/500); Aperture: ƒ/8.0; ISO equivalent: 180; Focal Length (35mm): 330.