Have you ever been to the Poppy Reserve in Lancaster? It’s been on my to-do list for years, but somehow we always miss the blooming season! This year, however, everything aligned and we visited last weekend. Just as I imagined, it was spectacular.
The Reserve is located in the Antelope Valley of Southern California and is a State Nature Reserve (i.e. part of the State Park system). The park is about 78 miles north of Los Angeles, off of California Highway 14, and very easy to get to. It’s 1800 acres of almost pure orange between late March & early April and is the most consistent poppy-bearing land in California. Besides poppies, tons of other wildflowers share the space, and it truly is a mosaic of rolling hills of color.
We visited on a Saturday and luckily got there early, before the big crowds. If you go, I highly recommend an early arrival or try to go during the week. As we were leaving at 11:30 am, the parking lot was full and visitors were having to park outside the reserve and walk in (at least a ½ mile).
There are seven miles dedicated trails that are easy to follow, all of them loops, and you can go as far as the Antelope Butte Vista Point, which has a gorgeous view.
If it’s early in the day, as it was for us, and on the cooler side, you may have to deal with some flowers that haven’t fully opened. This is also the case if it’s cloudy or cold, so be forewarned! If you go later in the day, you inevitably have to deal not only with crowds, but that great Antelope Valley wind that kicks up almost every day!
If you visit, here are some things to keep in mind:
- The Reserve is open from sunrise to sundown, daily, all year
- Entry is $10 per vehicle
- Bring water – the wind is dehydrating!
- Don’t bring your dog, they are not welcome
- Watch out for rattlesnakes!
- You can bring snacks, but you can’t eat on the trail. There’s a picnic area at the visitors center
- Stay on the trails! The blooms are so beautiful, but they won’t last for everyone to enjoy if you stomp into the field for that perfect Instagram photo
- No drones – although that would be a cool experience to see!
- Check out the Visitors Center on your way out for more information on the wildflowers & wildlife in the reserve – it’s so interesting!
The season is definitely winding down, and they’re only expecting the blooms to last another week or two, so if this is on your list, hop to it! With all the rain we’ve had this year, you won’t want to miss the display.