Place: Carrizo Canyon, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountain National Monument, Palm Desert, California
Coordinates: 33.66804, -116.40830
Length: about 3 miles in and out.
Difficulty: moderate. Involves some rock scrambling at the end.
We were nearing the end of our winter vacation when we arrived at Palm Springs. Our day started with attempts to get clear information of Mount San Jacinto, a task that proved to be surprisingly challenging. By the time we finally got it, it was already late to go up there, so we drove a bit south to the town of Palm Desert, to visit the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. There, at the visitor center, we found the most helpful and informative staff in the area, who helped us plan our hikes for the entire time we spent in that region.
The first thing we noticed as we pulled into the visitor center's parking lot was the big statue of a Bighorn ram.
"Yes, they're up in the hills," we were told.
And so, with new hope we renewed our pursuit of the elusive Bighorn Sheep.
"There are at the Carrizo Reserve," we were told. "On January 2nd that area will be closed off for nine months as to not interfere with their breeding."
|Carrizo Canyon Trail is labeled yellow|
|The wash mouth of Carrizo Canyon.|
|A black-breasted sparrow next to the cactus|
|Early afternoon sun peaking over the cliff.|
|A white dike through the red layers|
I find it awe inspiring to think of these rocks as something plastic, bending and folding like playdough.
The few plants that decorate these rocks add to their serene beauty.
These amazing cacti make use of the tiny crevices in the rock and are able to establish themselves on what appears to be bare rock!
As the canyon narrows, we reached the first signs of oasis: a lone palm tree at the fork where two tributaries join.
We continued on to the right fork. The canyon became even narrower and soon we had to scramble up boulders and dry cascades. The chickas enjoyed this part most, and so did their mamma :-)
After a few hundred yards we reached a tall dry waterfall which blocked our progress. There we sat down and had a snack break.
|The Carrizo Canyon waterfall.|
|The oasis behind the fall|
Looking to the east we could see across the Coachella Valley, an area that in previous times was flooded with water, the remains of which is now Salton Sea. In the photo, Palm Desert is right below us, green and inviting.Behind it are the mustard-colored hills of the Coachella Valley Preserve. The brown mountains in the background are the western part of Joshua Tree National Park.