Sunday, February 10, 2013

Soda Lake, Carrizo Plain National Monument. (updated w/new photos 02/18/13)

Remember when it used to really rain in Southern California?

Ruth, riding the Plain. 

Soda Lake, from miles away and above.

This small salt pan can be found at the south end of Soda Lake Rd.
Soda Lake on the Carrizo is a salt pan that used to hold water well into the spring, and because of that it was a crucial stop for some migratory birds, which made the Carrizo seem pretty lively. Soda Lake has been dry for two seasons now, this I learned one day while hitching a ride back to Goodwin with Mark, a hunter from Bakersfield who told me how the place used to look and reduced the diminishing birdlife in the area to one thing, water. No water equals fewer birds. Right now Soda Lake is a dead salt flat, windswept and lifeless.

Regarding the geology of Soda Lake, the surface of the salt pan is generally made up of bicarbonate crystals, more specifically known as halite and thenardite (there's some gypsum in there too). In truly dry conditions when the lake has fully evaporated these crystals continue to grow, some to considerable size (see pic below). As to the frosty white crust? It tastes like table salt.
Here's the official blurb on Soda Lake:

"This large basin is all that remains of a prehistoric sea. One of the largest undisturbed alkali wetlands in the state, the 3,000 acre lake provides important habitat for migratory birds. With no outlet, the water evaporates leaving behind a glistening expanse of sodium sulfate and carbonate salts that appear to ripple and sway in the heat waves of summer."  

Historic photo, circa filterless Camels.


  1. Hi David,
    good to see you out and about. I was imagining you at home in pain. I trust that is over?? I hope so .
    So when was the last time the birds were at Soda Lake? five years ago? Ten years ago ?

  2. Thanks Daniel, sincerely. I'm ready for the bummers to stop any time now. Hasn't been a good month for me. -DS