With the fog’s unrelenting grip on the immediate coast yet again this summer, I drove out to the Cuyama Badlands the other day to enjoy some heat and blue skies. It had been a year since my last venture specifically to the area. A previous trip up Apache Canyon early this last spring was stopped short due to storm damage to the road, the Forest Service was driving out after locking the gate just as I happened to be heading in.
The San Rafael and Sierra Madre Mountains cast a rain shadow over the Cuyama Valley region, which helps create an area of high desert badland terrain with pinyon pine and juniper woodland. It is quite unlike anything else around these parts. From plants to rocks, once I’m far back in the arroyos and in among the canyons and folds of land, it all seems so out of place for the tri-county area, as if a chunk of land from the American Southwest was scooped up and plopped down in California. Lush Matilija on one side of the mountains and badlands on the other.
Overlooking Dome Springs Camp in Dry Canyon (August 2011). The camp’s name is a misnomer, according to “A Camper’s Guide to the Tri-County Are” by Bob Burtness, there is no spring at this camp. Although, there is a spring labeled on maps I have.
Apache Canyon (August 2010):