Thursday, December 29, 2011


Back in the day when we used to live in LA County, the poppy reserve was often on our "to do" list for springtime wildflower viewing. Unfortunately, the blooms of our State flower in this part of the W. Mojave were, to say the least, never guaranteed, i.e. - highly unpredictable. 

Our trips out here can be summed up into 3 typical scenarios: 1) we were awed by the awesome visage of the stunning orange hues carpeting the hillsides and had an amazing time soaking in the vistas; 2) we were confused when we saw no poppies whatsoever blooming on the reserve itself, but saw acres of them blooming just across the road - wtf? 3) we were embarrassed because we dragged our city slicker friends miles out to the middle of nowhere (at least in their minds) to see the fantastic blooms, and we found only one - just ONE freakin' poppy next to the picnic table...better than none, I suppose. 

Anyhoo, lesson learned is that you should always check the local wildflower hotlines and/or call the reserve on the status of the poppy blooms before driving all the way out there just to be disappointed by a meh season. You should also check the weather report, as the poppies won't open up if it's cloudy and/or really windy. 

April 1992. EE in full-slendored tie dye to match the poppies. 

April 1992. Classic EE.

April 1992. Me & Gil.

April 1992. 

April 1992.

April 1992.

April 1992.

April 1992.

4/13/96 This was scenario #3, with nary a poppy in sight...Alison & baby Catherine, me & EE.

4/13/96 EE, hovering over the only poppy visible in the discernible distance.

4/13/96 EE, none to pleased about the generally poppyless experience.

4/13/96 Me, Alison, EE, Arnold & Catherine, enjoying ourselves, despite the lack of poppies.


4/2/95 Gil, reposing.

4/2/95 Elaine, Chuck, Dad, Mom & Gil.

4/2/95 Chuck, Dad, Mom, Me & Gil.

4/2/95 Windswept.



4/2/95 Dad & Mom.

4/2/95 Mom, Dad & me.

5/4/03 California poppies in full bloom across from the reserve. This was one of those years when few poppies were blooming on the reserve itself, but a ton of them were, just across the road. Go figure.

5/4/03 Across the road from the poppy reserve.


Location:  Western Antelope Valley in the Antelope Buttes, 15 miles west of Lancaster. Elevation ranges from 2,600 to 3,000 ft.

County/State: N. Los Angeles, CA.

Management: California Dept. of Parks & Recreation.

Size: 1,745 acres.

Closest Town: Lancaster.

Directions: From Hwy. 14N, exit West Avenue I in Lancaster (left/west). Travel 15 miles west to reach the reserve (the road eventually becomes Lancaster Blvd. just past 110th St. West). Continue west from here to the reserve visitor center, which is just before the intersection with 170th St. West.


Website: (California State Parks).

Contact Info: Reserve wildflower hotline (661)724-1180 (peak wildflower viewing is usually in mid-April). Park office (661)946-6092.

Trails: 7 miles of trails (4 loop trails), including a paved section for wheelchair access. Watch out for rattlesnakes, as this is their natural habitat. Antelope Loop Trail (from visitor center to Antelope Butte vista) is 2.5 miles round trip, with 300 ft. elevation gain.

Amenities: Shaded picnic tables, viewing benches.

Fees: $10.00 per vehicle.

Hours: Sunrise to sunset. Visitor center open daily during wildflower season.

Visitor Center: Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive/Visitor Center located on Lancaster Rd. An award-winning energy conservation building, opened in 1982 (reserve was established in 1976). Pinheiro was a life-long Antelope Valley resident who was devoted to the protection and preservation of the area fauna. Although she had no formal training, her water color paintings are reknown and on display at the visitor center. Gift shop & interpretive displays.

Pets: Dogs must be leashed; not permitted on the trails.

Camping: None. Day use only.

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