“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam
Where the deer and the antelope play
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
And the skies are not cloudy all day”
– J Denver
The words above played over and over and over, in my mind, as I continued scouring the nearby Carrizo hillsides and plains; looking for at least, just one sign of a deer or antelope playing. I never saw one. The only sign of playing I saw came earlier, around Palmdale, from behemoth motorhomes, pickup trucks and trailers carrying all sorts of desert toys.
Photo above the only wildflowers I saw without venturing too far off road and.
This weekend is the last weekend of March 2021. My weather started out in Riverside county at 48 degrees, zero winds and endless visibility, and by three o’clock in San Luis Obispo County it was 80 degrees.
By the end of the day I rode my 2020 BMW GSA Adventure Motorcycle through five counties; Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles. The next day I can safely say, that were I a Tezla, my batteries would be 100% charged.
The Carrizo Plain National Monument is located just 100 air miles from Los Angeles, an area with a population greater than 37 U.S. states. Let that sink in for a second.
The Carrizo Plains National Monument in nearby San Luis Obismo county three hundred years ago, was nothing but, a vast grassland where buffalo, antelope and elk grazed and wildflowers blossomed every spring. Perhaps that’s why someone managed to convince Clinton to turn it (2001) into a National Monument. I wasn’t much impressed from the point of a motorcycle rider. There is so much more natural beauty in say, Joshua Tree, to the East or Anza Borrego to the South that I could see why this area is not as popular; until the wildflowers bloom.
My ride turned out to be a solo ride and I’m extremely glad it did. The other rider and I planned on camping but, in our text mail exchanges he kept getting wrapped around the axle about the weather and time constraints.
If you live in Orange County, and want to get there fast, then head out on CA-55N to the 405N and then onto Hwy 101N. As usual, unless you’re on a motorcycle, splitting lanes, the traffic will be horrible for you.
Rest assured, however, that a beautiful ride awaits you once you turn off the 101 and head onto CA-33, the road that leads into Ojai and beyond.
Photo below. Decision point.
Photo above. Fort Tejon.
On my next ride I plan on adding the Ojai Deer Lodge located at 2261 Maricopa Hwy as my lunch stop. This is supposedly a great upscale biker bar with great food.
Since I came from the Riverside area I took Hwy 15 to the 138 to the 14 through Palmdale before getting back on Hwy 5 (stopping at Fort Tejon for a tour) and then proceeding to the Carrizo Plains.
Within about 10 miles of Hwy 5 one begins to see the fertile productive farmlands of this area. I have never seen so many oranges on trees in my entire life – and I’m originally from Florida. And then a little while later I saw nothing but, oil and gas fields. Perhaps these are two reasons why there aren’t any deer or antelope now playing. For sure, there aren’t any buffaloes.
My lunch was at the closest town to the Carrizo Plains before turning around (11 miles) and heading back onto Highway 33.
The lunch wasn’t much to talk about but, I did meet up with and talk to some nearby coastal riders. One claimed that today was the first great weather they’ve enjoyed since the start of the year. Not many have taken the time to visit the nearby Carrizo plains; possibly on account of all the dirt roads.
As you head out of Ojai, CA-33 is called Maricopa Hwy. The road has some nice twists and turns. Everywhere you look the view of the valley below is stunning. Once you make your way to the coast, if there is no fog, you can see the Channel Islands toward the south.
I did not travel this way, instead I chose to ride back towards Frazier Park by taking the Frazier Park Mountain Road. On the way I crossed two water crossings where the creek gently flowed over the road. I believe the intersection of 33 and Lockwood Valley Road, is where you have the option of either making a right towards Frazier Park which will take you to Hwy 5 or Cerro Noroeste Road.
There isn’t much more to add to this story other than the following pictures that might also inspire you to visit your own national park or monument.