Northern California’s Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is one of the most biologically diverse, yet least known regions of the state. Located less than one hundred miles from the Sacramento and Bay Area metropolitan regions, the 330,000+ acre area is a dazzling outdoor wonderland rich in unique natural features and loaded with recreational opportunities.
The Monument covers a range of elevations spread from north to south that makes it an ideal migration corridor for plants and animals forced to move by the warming climate. It includes public land from the Snow Mountain Wilderness in Lake and Mendocino Counties to the trout-rich waters of Putah Creek downstream of Lake Berryessa, where the creek forms the border between Solano and Napa Counties. It contains six major habitat types which support animals including osprey, bald and golden eagles, river otters, mountain lions, tule elk, and rare plants–like the Sargent’s cypress and serpentine willow–found nowhere else on earth.
Visitors can explore BLM-managed Monument lands by hiking on trails in the Cache Creek Wilderness, rafting the white water of Cache Creek, boating in to the secluded Cedar Roughs Wilderness, or traveling the rugged terrain of the Knoxville Recreation Area in their four-wheel-drive vehicles, motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles.
A closer look at these public lands will reveal an intricate world of plants, animals and insects that have adapted to thrive in harsh and rocky serpentine soils. These greenish-gray-colored soils lack essential nutrients needed by most plants. To survive these soils, plants must tolerate drought, exposure to heavy metals and full sun. For years, scientists have studied conditions on BLM-managed lands within the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument to improve their understanding of these habitats and the specially adapted plants. The region is also renowned for its world-class geologic features.