RFI – Pinnacles NP and Carrizo Plain

Hi all,

I am planning an April trip down to Pinnacles and Carrizo Plain.  We are interested in mammals (of course) and herps.   I am seeking any advice on parts of the parks to visit or trails to hike.  We aren’t campers so I need to plan real roofs over our heads.  Tentatively,  I have planned one night in a B&B right next to the Pinnacles West entrance.  Then two nights in Atascadero so that we are as close as possible (still 1+ hours) from the north part of Carrizo Plain.  I was thinking about spending a 4th night in an bare bones hotel in Taft to be near the southern part of Carrizo Plain but I am not sure if that is worth it or not.  Thoughts on that?  Then on the way back north we would spend the better part of a day at the East entrance to Pinnacles.

The primary species we would like to see are Kit Fox, San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel, Giant Kangaroo Rat, Condor, Blunt-nosed Leopard Lizard and what ever else we can find.

Any suggestions or advice is greatly appreciated.




  1. John Fox 10 years ago


    I stayed at the hotel in Maricopa a couple of times, it was OK. It’s a little closer than Taft. But in any case be careful driving through Maricopa, when I was there the police were writing people up for driving 1 MPH over the speed limit. There were protest signs up from local businesses about it, etc.

    Curtis Hart did real well at the southern end one time and I saw several rodents on the road near the Selby campground. The first time I went I had to work to find the Antelope Squirrel near the Wallace Creek area but the next time they were abundant near where the northern paved section turns to dirt. I think Curtis found lots of them further north of there, too.

    Kit Fox is my nemesis dog, I missed it three times. Did see a Red Fox there, though. Let us know how it goes.


  2. Vladimir Dinets 10 years ago

    Southern part along Soda Lake Rd. is better, or at least it was in 1997-2002.

  3. vnsankar 10 years ago

    Hi from a south bay resident. I’ve never been to Carrizo Plain, but have seen San Joaquin Kit Fox in San Benito along New Idria Rd in the Panoche Valley and San Joaquin Antelope Squirrel along Little Panoche Rd. On a mammal note, roads through chaparral in and near eastern Pinnacles NP in San Benito are good for Big Eared Kangaroo Rat (is this a species??) (I saw mine by night driving) at night; I would think they’re probably there on the west side too though I may be mistaken. Dusky Footed Woodrats are easy in the park’s campgrounds in the evenings and at night so it may be worth sticking around for a sighting – Bobcats and Coyotes prowl the grounds too. I read that you’re staying in the west though so the kangaroo rat info may not be that helpful. Either way, good luck!

    • Vladimir Dinets 10 years ago

      AFAIK, there are two k-rat species in Panoche Valley. D. heermannii is common, D. nitratoides very rare.

      • vnsankar 10 years ago

        I believe D. ingens occurs just east of the valley in the Silver Creek Ranch area too! Thanks for the reply.

  4. Alan 10 years ago

    Thanks for the information everyone. I definitely plan to spend a night at the southern end of Carrizo Plain and I will try to follow the rest of the advice as well. Hopefully, I will have some good encounters to share when I return.

  5. markhowsMark Hows 10 years ago

    I visited recently and found most of your targets, my trip report is in the California section


    • Alan 10 years ago

      I’ve got your report printed out Mark. It was pretty much the inspiration for this road trip since we were looking for somewhere new to go. Tried to fit in the Channel Islands as well but that will have to wait.

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