Travel: Photographing wildflowers off the beaten path near the Carrizo Plain – OCRegister


Being a photographer with a love of the outdoors, I quickly jumped at the chance to photograph the early wildflowers blooming in north Orange County following the winter rains. But I realized that it was still early and that this was just the beginning of many more blooms to come.

Soon after seeing photographs on social media of the explosion of California poppies in the Lake Elsinore area, I knew that was where I wanted to go next. But that thought quickly faded as I heard and saw that many thousands of other people had the same idea. I had to come up with a different plan.

Years ago I had traveled through the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located west of Bakersfield, on a story about the San Andreas Fault. With a little research, I found that there was a decent blooming of wildflowers in the area. Knowing its rather remote location, I had a feeling that the monument would not be overrun with people. I messaged a fellow photographer to see if he would be up for a road trip. He was all in. Before sunrise on a Monday morning in late March we packed our cameras, lenses and some food and hit the road.

Three hours later we turned off the highway and on to the dirt and gravel Soda Lake Road and entered the Carrizo Plain National Monument. It wasn’t long until we spotted our first expanse of wildflowers. We both agreed that it was a good place to stop and get out to make a few photographs. Little did we know that it would be the first of countless stops. Moments later I looked up the road and saw a couple of cars stopped and someone wearing a bright red jacket get out to view the field of yellow flowers. We were quickly back in the car to check out our next scene. It turned out to as good as we both had imaged.

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The further we drove, the more we stopped. The more we stopped the more wildflowers we photographed. At this pace, we knew we would never make it home and we began passing up beautiful scenes of yellow flowers extending to the horizon, rating them against the ones we had already photographed.

After lunch, we took a right turn on to Seven Mile Road toward the mountains to the east which just screamed at us to come closer and see the vibrant yellow and purple slopes. Along the way, we, of course, stopped every couple of miles to document the scene before us.

Finally, we arrived at the intersection of State Route 58 and encountered our first real crowd of people out to view the incredible creation of Mother Nature. I counted fifteen cars. We had successfully escaped the madding crowds of the south. All we could do was smile, and make a few more photographs.




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