The enclosed basin of Carrizo Plain is about 50 miles long and 15 miles wide. Drainage from the mountains flows into Soda Lake which is dry most of the year. The monument is undeveloped with a few historic sites under preservation.
Soda Lake Road, which travels north to south, is 45 miles long, paved at both ends with gravel in the middle section. Hundreds of miles of high clearance and 4X4 roads access remote areas. Fill your gas tank before venturing into the park. For visitors without a high clearance vehicle or the ability to hike on rough terrain this is a drive through park.There are very few opportunities to park along Soda Lake Road and explore because the handful of parking lots are small and the road does not have shoulders. We did not want to drive the 20 miles of unpaved road so we did the southern section and the northern section on separate days.
Our main reason for visiting was to see the wildflowers but we were a little late and the flowers on the hills had faded. They were still pretty nice at the north end outside the monument along eastbound Route 58.
At the southern end you can get a good view of the San Andreas Fault.
The monument has two primitive campgrounds. We stayed at Selby Campground which has about a dozen sites with camping allowed along the edges if the sites are filled. There are shade covers over the tables, fire rings and vault toilets. The sites are close together with no privacy but the view of the plain is nice. The road in is five miles of washboard.
Very little is accessible. The Goodwin Education center was not open during out visit but I believe it is accessible. All of the campground tables have extended tops and the ground is hardpacked. None of the short interpretive trails are accessible. We walked/rolled on the Soda Lake Boardwalk which has a rough sandy path to access it then a step up to get onto the boardwalk. Monument35.26318, -119.93344
Dropping down into the Midway-Sunset Oil Field plain, after spending a month of enjoying the green hills and wild flower displays in southern California, was a shock to our eyes. The oil field, the largest in California, covers more than 30 square miles and has produced 3 billion barrels of oil. For years Native Americans used natural seeps of thick oil as a glue and waterproofing material but it wasn’t until 1889 that the first well was drilled in the valley.
The museum covers many aspects of the area and the oil industry including Native American history, the excavation of prehistoric animal bones from tar pits, and company oil towns. The outside display features a replica of an 1917 oil rig that originally stood on the museum grounds plus all types of old oil equipment and assorted junk.
The threshold at the entrance to the museum has a short step up. The interior is accessible with a long ramp to the second floor. The grounds are hard packed sandy soil and fairly accessible. Museum 35.13293, -119.44733
The histories of Native Americans and early settlers living in the mountains centered around Frazier Park, California are told through donated artifacts and family photographs. The museum is one small room. A log cabin and early gas station are located on the grounds.
The museum is accessible. The grounds are surfaced with gravel which makes rolling around a bit difficult. The log cabin and gas station are not open to tour and can be viewed from the parking lot.
Do not drive to the museum if you have a large RV. Park in the gravel section of the post office parking lot and follow the path or walk along the street. This is a mountain community and the streets are narrow with sharp bends. The museum lot is very small and there isn’t room to turn around. Museum34.81998, -118.94428
A wet and cool spring produced super blooms everywhere in southern California but none match the display at the Poppy Reserve. The hills are covered with thousands of poppies and tiny goldfields.
Seven miles of interconnected trails climb to the hilltops and circle back to the parking lot. The interpretive center has a short video and a gift shop.
We visited on a weekday around 3:00 and didn’t wait in line very long but weekends can be very busy. Poppies also cover the hills east of the reserve and there’s room on the side of the road to stop so that’s an option if the reserve is crowded. The poppies close about 4:00 in the afternoon and if it’s very windy or cold.
Everything is uphill from the parking lot. A short paved section leads to an overlook. Wheelchair users may need assistance to climb the hill. We walked/rolled counter clockwise along the two mile, unpaved loop at the west end of the reserve. It starts with a steep uphill then goes gradually back down with a few rolling sections. An energetic helper is necessary. It may be easier to go clockwise. The interpretive center is accessible.
RV and bus parking is at the far end of a gravel lot. Wheelchair users may need assistance to get to the paved trail and the interpretive center because of the uphill grade. Reserve34.73046, -118.39185
This little park is in the middle of nowhere and visitation is low. The trails that climb to the tops of Little Butte and Saddleback Butte are the main attractions.
The campground has restrooms, a dump station and potable water. Most of the faucets are not threaded. The campsites have shade ramadas over the tables. The sites are not reservable which isn’t a problem. We stayed for three nights and had the campground almost all to ourselves. The road parallel to the campground goes to Edwards Airforce Base and is heavily traveled so it’s kind of noisy.
The accessible campsite has a wide parking pad, a large “living " area, a table with an extended top, and is close to the restroom. The ground is hard packed dirt with some gravel and rolling is fairly easy. The 1/2 mile loop nature trail and a portion of the Little Butte Trail are designated as accessible.The nature trail is paved for most of the loop except for one short section that’s rough gravel. We are puzzled by this as there does not seem to be a reason to leave it unpaved. The trail goes downhill so save energy for the push back up. The Little Butte Trail become loose sand very quickly and is not accessible. The visitor center is accessible but open on weekends only so we did not visit it. Park34.6767, -117.8253
Joshua trees, junipers, cottonwoods, creosote bushes, and desert shrubs provide food and nesting spots for birds and animals in this little park surrounded by suburban development. The ones we saw were all common types such as hares, cottontails, quails. and mocking birds but it was still fun to see so much wildlife in one small area.
About two miles of trails with interpretive signs circle through the preserve. Stop at the Interpretive Center (opened Sat, Sun, and Weds) and get a map.
The Interpretive Center is accessible with a paved walkway to the door. The rest of the trails are hard packed sandy soil and are very accessible. All of the little washes and dips are spanned by bridges which met the paths evenly and flush.
Small RVs will fit in the parking lot if backed up over the ground. Larger RVs can be parked on the neighborhood street near the reserve entrance. Preserve34.6677, -118.19384
The murals were a nice surprise for us. We spotted one as we were walking/rolling along Lancaster Blvd and then it became a hunt to find more. The murals are part of two projects – the Aerospace Walk of Honor that spotlights test pilots, and the POW!WOW! an event sponsored by the Lancaster Museum of Art and History which brings in local artists and volunteers to paint the walls. Since we didn’t have a map I know we missed some of the murals. This is the best map I could find and it may be missing the test pilots murals - Map.
The public parking at the library on Dale Ave is large enough for any RV. The sidewalks and curb cuts are in very good condition. Murals34.6994, -118.14043