Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trip through Carrizo Plain National Monument

Crossing the Temblor Range

On the second day of our post-Thanksgiving road trip, we headed inland from the coast to Carrizo Plains National Monument, in hopes of finding some pronghorn antelope. We did find them, but I didn't get any good images (they were too far off) -- but maybe I'll tack one or two onto a later post, anyway. During the afternoon we drove a loop of what was basically the entire length of the park, and in the southeast corner, we crossed over what I believe is the tip of the Temblor Range. After driving for over an hour in what was more desert than grassland, it was a true delight to take this tiny dirt road over these hills. The view from the top was just spectacular!

Late afternoon in Carrizo Plain NM

As a note to anyone interested in visiting the park (which I do highly recommend!), the roads are not well marked, and we missed this turnoff, as it looked like any of the other non-descript dirt roads.

Far away sights

This is a place I would love to spend more time in -- it gave me a great appreciation for plains ecosystems (something I have not spent much time in), and it would be awesome to photograph these magical grasslands during the golden hours of light. While I don't have any pictures to show, I can tell you that the park took on a whole different and truly spectacular character as the sun rapidly approached the horizon. The tips of all of the grasses just lit up, and it almost looked as if snow had covered the ground. We got to experience this beautiful scene from the car, as we raced the last of the light to get out of the park and back to a farming field we saw on the way in that had the pronghorn in it. To our delight, they were in the same area at the end of the day, and we were able to watch them through the binoculars until it was finally too dark.

Grasses at the top


  1. Great post Pat. Carrizo is one of my favorite places. I hope this rain continues and we get to see some amazing wildflower displays in the Spring.


  2. Your first picture really captures some of the light dynamics of the landscape! What a lovely visit.

  3. Hey Pat,

    I can't imagine what it will be like in the spring. The area does look truly beautiful. I also have pronghorn on my list of animals to photograph. I'm hoping when I'm up in Gardiner, MT this January I'll get my chance. Best of luck and sounds like you had an awesome viewing experience!

  4. Thanks, Barry! I can imagine that this place will be even more incredible in the spring!

    Thanks, Laura! Glad you got to come along for this one -- it was a great trip!

    Thanks, Jarred! Good luck with the pronghorn in January -- they are such a beautiful species!