Environment

Sightseers headed to the Carrizo Plain super bloom are getting stuck in the mud instead

Fields of blue wildflowers bloom at Shell Creek in SLO County

Baby Blue Eyes bloom the wildflower fields at Shell Creek Road in San Luis Obispo County. Take a drone tour of the early display that hints at a super bloom later in the month.
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Baby Blue Eyes bloom the wildflower fields at Shell Creek Road in San Luis Obispo County. Take a drone tour of the early display that hints at a super bloom later in the month.

Be careful if you’re heading out to the Carrizo Plain to check out the super bloom and get that perfect Instagram photo — several cars have become stuck on muddy roads in the area, CHP confirmed Thursday.

A CHP dispatcher said as of early afternoon, at least four cars were stuck on roads near the national monument. A CHP helicopter was dispatched to help locate the vehicles and arrange tow trucks for the stranded sightseers.

The dispatcher said the agency has “had this happen several times over the past few days,” and that is common at this time of year, when visitors flock to the area to take in the explosion of color as wildflowers take over the hills.

The blooms are popular photo destinations across the state, with thousands of pictures of poppies, daisies and other wildflowers popping up on Instagram and social media in recent days as news of the latest bloom spread.

Because the roads throughout the monument are dirt, many become impassable when periods of heavy rain turn them into mud.

The website for the Carrizo Plain National Monument cautions drivers that though the paved portion of the main road, Soda Lake Road, is open year round, others like Panorama and Simmler roads can “take weeks to dry out after a rain.”

“Even though the other roads in the monument are dry, Panorama and Simmler roads may be impassable — proceed with caution on these roads especially during winter months, and obey all closed road signs,” the website cautions.

Carrizo Plain National Monument Manager Johna Hurl urged drivers to obey the posted signs on those roads.

“You think it’s dry and then all of a sudden you car is stuck,” she told The Tribune in a phone interview Friday. “Please if you see a red sign, even if it looks fine, don’t go down it because it will not be fine.”

The super bloom isn’t fully underway in the Carrizo Plains area yet — David Chipping, president of Friends of the Carrizo Plain, told The Tribune on Wednesday it is still early in the season for the best display — so it might be a good idea to wait a while longer before heading out for that new profile picture.

For a look at where wildflowers are blooming across the state, check out our story here: Where to see California’s wildflower super blooms — from SLO County to San Diego

Numerous areas in Southern California are expecting a super bloom of wildflowers. This video captures poppies and Ceanothus flowers at Walker Canyon near Corona in Feb. 2017 and in Ocotillo Wells, San Diego County in Feb. 2019.

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