What you need to know about the 'super bloom' at Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carrizo Plain National Monument, an out-of-the-way grassland and dry lake bed in a remote area east of San Luis Obispo, has erupted with wildflowers. Nature lovers and birders know this beauty spot, and now, thanks to this year’s “super bloom,” a record number of visitors are discovering it too.

“The Valley floor has endless expanses of yellows and purples from coreopsis, tidy tips and phacelia, with smaller patches of dozens of other species,” Bureau of Land Management wilderness specialist and photographer Bob Wick wrote on the agency’s Flickr page. “Not to be outdone, the Temblor Range is painted with swaths of orange, yellow and purple like something out of a storybook. I have never seen such a spectacular array of blooms. Ever."

It’s only expected to last another two weeks or so, depending on the weather.

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Inside the monument, you can visit Soda Lake, the “largest remaining natural alkali wetland in Southern California,” the foothills (which are ablaze with color) and the San Andreas Fault, which crisscrosses the area.

If you plan to go for a wildflower fix, here are travel suggestions from the BLM’s Facebook page:

— The Carrizo Plain is about 170 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The 5 Freeway is your best bet, then turn off on a series of highways that lead to the eastern side of the monument.

— It’s best to start your visit at the Goodwin Education Center on Soda Lake Road where you can grab a map and find information. It’s open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. You’ll find it by entering the monument from Highway 58.

— Don’t expect your cellphone to work; coverage in the monument is unreliable.

— Bring an ample supply of food, water and gas because the closest places to replenish — gateway communities of Taft and Santa Margarita — are at least 50 miles away.

— The best way to see the monument is to drive on Soda Lake Road, which has good wildflower shows at the north and south ends. The road runs between Highways 58 and 166.

— Expect campgrounds to be full if you are planning to stay overnight. Visitors may camp at undeveloped sites in the foothills but are asked to stay off the valley floor.

—If you’re going to stop your car to gawk at flowers, pull far enough off the road so you aren’t stopping traffic.

Info: Carrizo Plain National Monument, (805) 475-2131

Also, check out bloom updates for Southern California and beyond at the Wildflower Hot Line.

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