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Carrizo Plain
National Monument

Posted by Dave Allee on


We took a Father/Son/Son trip to the Carrizo Plain National Monument last week to stretch the legs and stretch the eyes.  We had visited here about 18 months previously, and it was as dry and desolate as any place I had ever been. It was dead silent last time, not even a bug was chirping.  Kind of eerie how lifeless it was.

After a fair amount of rain this Winter (by California standards) we figured it was worth giving the Plain another shot.

We also had CA hunting licenses, in case a coyote or ground squirrel made an appearance. 

It was apparent from first glance the impact that the recent rains have had on the landscape of the Plains.  Life had returned to the previously scorched earth.  

We arrived in time for an evening hike before settling in for the night, and watched some waist-high jack rabbits tearing up the hillside.   The Carrizo Plain is 246,812 acres, and contains (as far as I know) a whopping two campgrounds.  The BLM does, however, allow you to set up camp anywhere in the Monument, so you are not restricted to the camp sites.  We selected a spot at the KCL campsite, under the shade of the biggest tree in sight.

We spent that first night settling into the slowed pace of camp life and relearning how to carry on conversation without the temptation or distraction of a cell phone (which rarely has service out there).

As we lazily drifted off, I couldn't help but dream of how incredible the Plain would be if it was filled with Bison and Pronghorn.  

The next morning we were on the hunt for a little side road where we could set up the targets and shoot a few photos, we figured that in the 246,812 acres we shouldn't be hard-pressed to find a corner to ourselves.

As we bounced down the dirt road, in the Sprinter Van, in search of a suitable space to do what we came to do.  The words "how epic would this place be if it was filled with pronghorn and bison be..." had just left my lips when my Dad said "RIGHT THERE!"

To my disbelief, there were two young Pronghorn bucks out the left window, chasing each other and racing in circles.  I had heard that the Carrizo Plain was home to a herd of Pronghorn, but I didn't actually believe it to be true.  I could hardly believe what I was seeing.  The comedic timing of their arrival was not lost on me.

We watched them for a while and they fed casually and wandered off towards the nearest hills and out of sight.  But even as they strolled off into the distance, I was still wrapping my excited mind around the thought of wild Pronghorn Antelope roaming Central California.  Call it childish excitement, or boyish enthusiasm, but I was thoroughly stoked by our find. (All photos: Jeffrey Allee)