MNN Galleries

Carrizo Plain: Exploring 'the Serengeti of the West'

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on May 13, 2013, 2:26 p.m.
A hawk flies through Carrizo Plain National Monument.

Photo: Jaymi Heimbuch

1 of 19

Diverse, bountiful and fragile

I have lived in California my whole life, yet I never cease to be amazed by how many little-known gems of wild space exist in this state if you're willing to drive toward the middle of no where. A perfect example of this is the Carrizo Plain National Monument. If you follow Highway 58 or Highway 166, you'll come across Soda Lake Road, a rural and mostly unpaved road that runs through what might look like nothingness. But in reality, this place — hot and dry for much of the year — is a diverse, bountiful but fragile ecosystem.