Carizzo Plain was an impromptu detour on our way from California to Arizona. (Yes, the van is FINALLY leaving its birth state). This National Monument is located 100 miles north of Los Angeles and had a feeling of being in the middle of nowhere (because it is).



Our Sprinter in Carizzo NP


Leftover mining equipment in Carizzo

In the middle of this middle-of-nowhere plain is Soda Lake. From far away, it looked just like a regular lake. Then I noticed something odd – the waves, they weren’t moving!

It turned out that during wet season, Soda Lake is filled with water and visited by migratory birds. However, at this time of the year it was nothing but a 5-mile long salt bed.

Carizzo National Monument Soda Lake

soda lake in Carizzo

I grew up in the tropics and before I came to California all I knew of the deserts came from the movies. You’re all familiar with the cliche: never-ending sand dunes where nothing but scorpions and camels live.

The first time I went to a desert was in 2006 to Death Valley. It was spring and the park just teemed in life and colors from all of the blooming desert plants. The desert was nothing like what I had imagined. It was utterly gorgeous, and not to mention, colorful!

Ever since then, springtime showing of desert wildflowers has been somewhat of an obsession of mine and I always make a special effort to see it.

We were hoping that the wildflowers were out in Carrizo Plain. And they were.


Wildflowers in Carizzo NP spring

Beautiful wildflower on the roadside to Carizzo



You can never tell how good the wildflower is going to be for a given year. It depends on so many factors like temperature and rainfall. I was told that the last wildflower bloom ‘explosion’ in California was in 2010. With the drought the state is experiencing, who knows when the next one is going to be.

Even with this somewhat depressing thought in the back of our mind, we were still happy that Spring – my favorite time of the year – is here. To catch the season’s rare and fleeting moment in this beautiful place is just the icing on the cake.

wildflower in california

Who else is excited about spring?

Thanks for reading. For pictures of the most amazing desert I’ve been to check out Danakil Depression in Ethiopia.