Carrizo Plain National MonumentThe generally dry lake bed of Soda Lake is at the north end of the Carrizo Plain. There are six established hiking routes in the area, although all but one of them are less than a mile long. Two of them are devoted to having a look at Soda Lake. Roads also go all the way around the lake, so there are many more vantage points.
Overlook HillLocate the site.
There are a couple hills that seem to rise suddenly out of the flat plane. This one near the road has a parking lot around the back and a short path up to the top past two informative signs. At the top, the expanse of the lake is easy to see. I got to the top to see that it was very clearly dry. Not even a little puddle of liquid out there anywhere. It really ought to be getting to its soggiest by now, but there is only salt resting in frozen waves.
|The southeasterly view of the very dry salt flat in the middle of the plane.|
|The boardwalk is directly below the hill. The Temblor Range is looking very crisp today.|
|Wind was whipping along, but must have just started. It was kicking up the salt into the air and would reduce the visibility over the course of the afternoon.|
Of course, the hill gives views of more than just the expanse of mineral salts. Behind, there is more expanse and clustered around another hill there is a small ranch.
|A clustering of buildings around a nearby hill.|
|Some more vast expanse of flat.|
Soda Lake TrailLocate the site.
I stopped off across the road and took the trail down to the boardwalk for a closer look. Many people have walked out into it for a short distance, but it didn't look like anyone had really set out. Here and there, it does ask you to stay on established trails.
|Footsteps wandering the vast expanse of salt.|
|This should be full of birds, but I only see ravens and finches and a few other hardy specimens.|
|The boardwalk travels a short distance somewhat near the lake bed side, passing by four informative signs.|
|The mineral salts continue to get kicked up by the wind.|
|A closer look at the frozen waves of salt that are the surface of this lake bed.|
Simmler RoadLocate the site.
After the boardwalk, I went over to Wallace Creek and returned along Simmler Road. The changing light had changed the way the salt on the lake looked. It one direction it looked like there actually was water on this end of the lake, but in another direction it was still clearly dry. In between, the color of the salt in the light varied smoothly from the bleached dry white to an image of water that was not quite right blue. I stopped by the road for a few more photos.
|Part of the lake that is clearly dry.|
|While toward the sun, the lake bed was starting to look a little bit watery.|
|The gradual change of color shows the water is an illusion.|
|Never forget to turn around. Simmler Road has patches of salt on both sides of it.|
©2013 Valerie Norton
Posted 22 Feb 2013