Spring in southern California means poppies and wildflowers. One of the best places to enjoy the blooms is at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve located 15 miles west of Lancaster, and approximately 67 miles north of downtown Los Angeles. Wildflower season is usually from mid-February through mid-May although this can vary according to weather patterns such as drought or heavy rains.
Whether you are an intrepid hiker or wheelchair bound, young or old, there is plenty to see and do for everybody. Eight miles of trails with never-ending vistas of color on the gently rolling hills afford some good exercise. Or the visitor can relax on one of the many benches and soak in the view. If you are an artist, bring a sketch pad. For the photographer, every frame is a masterpiece. The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center, open during wildflower season, offers videos and informative exhibits related to the area.
Conditions change from week to week and sometimes day to day. One weekend the poppies can be open, enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes, the next they can be closed up because of gray skies and strong winds. Other plant species such as owl’s clover, lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis could be beginning or ending their life cycle. Although every visitor prefers to arrive when there is a brilliant show of flowers, there is no bad day to visit. In the fall, the area is still beautiful with warm days and less chance of high winds.
Besides wildflowers, if you look carefully you may enjoy sightings of wildlife including lizards, rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, mice, gophers, or scorpions—all inhabitants of this terrain in the high Mojave Desert.
Whatever time of year you choose to visit, don’t forget to bring a hat, sunscreen, and water.
For more information and directions, visit the official Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve website.
(All photos copyright roslyn m wilkins)