Super Bloom at Carrizo!

Spring break! After school obligations we streamed out Monday morning, April 10th, heading south to San Luis Reservoir SRA. We stopped for the essentials as always gas and food. Arriving at about five we decided to stay at Medeiros Campground where one can park anywhere with a possible water view. As we were getting a bit of water (from a holding tank) someone snatched our possible first choice to begin an evening fishing adventure. We ended up at another site just as good. This camping area is used primarily for day-use and lacks in a bit of romantic ambiance.

San Luis Reservoir was a great decision for a mid way drive to Carrizo Plain.

Driest Year on the Plain was 1975-1976 3.05 inches. This year over 20 inches.
It began to rain Tuesday morning as we left to go to another campground to get water and shower before heading south. This was the trip on our bucket list – Carrizo Plain for its super bloom. Heading south with ample water and stopping twice for gas we hit Selby Campground around 4:15. The drive, once we left the five was a mix of veggie produce and oil fields but once we headed up and out of the valley the color exploded and we soon found ourselves in a sea of flowers. The drive was a photographers dream, and I wanted to stop constantly but a good thing we didn’t as when we arrived at Selby it was packed. 15 sites advertised and at least 20 were taken. We drove in and parked right next to another Airstream and all was perfect. By nights end however all possible places to even think of camping were taken – swelling the campground to at least 50. When one drives 50 miles to see an explosion of color exception to space is relaxed and its all free camping.

Selby Campground was packed the entire time with most only staying one night. And it was free with water and toilets!

A five mile dirt road drive from the campground down to the valley. When we were leaving we could see Elk in the fields.
Waking up to sun after a night in the 40’s was perfectly perfect and after coffee we hiked a mile out of the campground to the ridge above to look at the view. Walking back we encountered numerous folks headed to look at different flowers not seen in the valley. After breakfast it was off to the visitor’s center. It was closed, opening only Thursday-Sunday. We decided to head out on to Simmler Road which bisects Soda Lake to take in the vast amount of yellow hues and purples. We also found cell service here allowing us to catch up on stuff. This was a road well used and numerous folks exploring both water features. We then turned right onto Elkhorn Road and went into Wallace Creek to look at the San Andres Fault display. Driving further we turned right onto Panorama Road coming out to Soda Lake Road. This way back to Selby Campground took our breath away as the light on the flowers just at the intersection to the campground was super bright, so a couple of pictures were taken.

The yellow was the finest and the flowers were crazy with fragrance, causing me to have a headache after hanging out with them.

No one was swimming in Soda Lake. The sandy soil surrounding the lake which was dried up reminded me of Chocolate Crinkle Cookies.

We have had a rainbow come with us the last two trips! Happy Thursday!

The campground continued to ebb and flow and when a 38 foot motor home with young kids showed up we moved vehicles so they could fit in. They thanked us with a bottle of Texas Red. Dinner was perfect, and when our other Airstream neighbors returned from their adventures we had a birthday campfire to celebrate, discuss, and laugh about our lives. Their neighbors joined in as well making it a late night.

Moderate rain and rainbows welcomed in Thursday and watching numerous folks leave, especially the tent campers, made us thankful for the Cloud. Off after a hearty breakfast we drove up Caliente Mountain Road which had been closed as they were grading it.

Caliente was quite the 4-wheel drive experience. Sparse new flowers and panorama views were gorgeous and when we had driven the three miles up we got out, put layers on and walked looking for new colors. None found and we were disappointed so drove down to the parking area, hiked around, still nothing, but were saved when someone told us to take a right at the top of the road we had just come down. We hopped into the truck and drove to the first spot and were blown away by the purples, and the perfume. The contrast with the yellow was breathtaking and we spent time just enjoying the contrasting color. As we sat in our truck another vehicle arrived from the opposite direction and told us about more flowers so we headed there and were welcomed by the best bloom of the trip! So many new colors and spectacular plants, mixed with the vibrant yellow hills in the background. Six miles in and such a wealthy array of color.  Driving down was uneventful but at times I dreaded the blind corners just saying.

The summit of Caliente Mountain is 4,404 ft. This would have been a great backpacking area if one had water available.

The desert candle flower was something we had never seen and the multitude of them in this picture is unbelievable. It was worth the drive to see this spot!

We hit the unremarkable visitors center – not a national park standard – more like a “we need some interpretation of the area, let’s build a mini center.” Heading back to camp we arrived to find the campground quickly filling up past capacity again, so much for 15 sites. It’s all good 🙂 Now to decide on the route to take home in the morning, watch a movie and have dinner. The temps were quite cool, and probably a good thing in helping the bloom last.

Leaving in the morning after showers we drove out of the campground taking photo opportunities and spied a herd of elk in the distance. The valley was filling quickly with lookers, a dude with parrots, someone with a drone, and numerous people taking those “surrounded by yellow flowers” pictures. I was thinking it would be a perfect spot for a wedding or senior pictures.

Abandoned barn on the way to Selby Campground.

Selby Rocks
Closeup of the predominate daisy.

 

Selfie in a sea of yellow on the Selby Rd. A real hot spot for picture taking.

We made it to Brannan Island SRA after checking out campgrounds on the way which all seemed to be reeling from winter weather issues keeping them closed. Brannan has always been our go to park and was looking beautiful! Nothing like mowed lawns and lush green grass. It was a long drive but we watched the Giants win, ate dinner and slept.

We loved the green mowed landscape, by June it will be dried out.

Since were counting…this is the fifth time in this campground and the second time in this spot. The campground flooded in February.

We resumed the drive north in the morning heading to Woodson Bridge SP to find only one site occupied in a very well maintained park. After deciding on the best one for us we chose 12 where we had been before. After unhooking, getting water and setting up we headed to wine taste at New Clairvaux in Vina-just a 10 minute drive. We always enjoy tasting their vines and checking up on the progress of their church building. After tasting, a hike around the campground, and dinner we settled in for the night. The next day we awoke to a light rain and proceeded to drive home to begin the week.

1160 miles and 28 hours of driving 110 gallons of gas in 7 days