That note at the bottom about needing a reservation always put me off before, too. I figured some day I'd make the call. This last Friday, though, I figured I'd drive up just to see what I could see.
I drove up a longish road, fields on either side, until I came to this sign:
I started to get excited. It's a real place. Not far from this entrance is the explanation, more or less:
So no real wolves. But a nice concept. Note that the lettering in this sign is cut out so the wind flows through it. A nice touch. I drove on, finally coming to a directional sign that told me there is a visitors center:
To the visitor center I went. It is a nice new Spanish-style building surrounded by construction that looks like nobody is in it yet, but when I pulled into the area a workman told me there is a secretary in there who could tell me about the place. I went inside and she did indeed tell me. She said they lead school groups through it but there weren't any that day so she would lead me to the kiosk, where I could read up, take a hike further or enjoy a waterfall. The place is huge and is home to much wildlife. From the construction I could discern that this preserve is well-funded. The secretary got into her four-wheel drive vehicle and I followed her down some dirt and asphalt roads to this kiosk:
She said I could stay until four, when they close, if I want. I said I had a cat in the car so would not be able to stay long on this trip but did want to look around a little. She said she often brought her cat in her car, too. She got back in the vehicle (which, she said, belongs to the preserve, not to her) and drove back, leaving me there alone with my thoughts. I left my car running, with the air conditioner on, and then looked up a little hill and saw this little lake:
It looks fairly new, like it's still working on developing its plants. I can see this becoming an oasis later, in a few years. I walked a little farther and saw this water streaming across the road in a rush:
I wanted to get to the other side. Just to the side of the road is this sign:
When I first read the "extreamly" I thought the misspelling might be deliberate, hinting at "stream". Later I thought no, it's just a misspelling. I took the little bridge across and around and found a lovely area. Built of stone, the area contains several picnic tables, a barbecue area, and a waterfall:
Nearby is this building:
which turns out to be the bathrooms. And what lovely bathrooms they are:
The light was beautifully dappled and the room was cool because of the construction. The stone "theme" of this preserve is appropriate and inviting.
There are hiking trails starting from here as well. It was hot and I had a cat in the car so I did not explore those. I found my way back to the car and drove back to 166, thinking this would be a great place for a family gathering.
I headed toward Bakersfield, hoping to find a cafe where I could upload some of the posts I had already prepared and to check my email.