Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve SNR

State Natural Reserve

Wildflower Bloom Status: April 17, 2014

It looks like the park is at peak bloom now, but it should continue to be a great bloom through the end of April.  Although some poppy flowers are spent, there are many more buds still developing.  The big rain we had at the end of February, doubled with a little more a month later, will keep the peak going without fading fast.
There are rivers of orange around the park, with some areas carpeted in orange.
Patches of other wildflowers such as white forget me nots, purple lupine and lacy phacelia, yellow goldfields and fiddleneck are creating a mosaic of color throughout the park.  The best poppy showing is currently at the west end of the North Poppy Loop trail- remember to stay on the trail; the poppies are right next to it so there's no difficulty in seeing them.  Poppies are also abundant along our handicap-accessible trail this year.

Poppies open up on nice days, but they curl up if it's windy and cold, so check the weather forecast before arriving.  It is frequently windy here during the spring.  The other wildflowers stay open, however, making a mosaic of color that changes daily. The weather can change suddenly, so bring a jacket.  This is a desert grassland, so bring water and drink often.  Bottled water is available for purchase in the interpretive center.

The Park

Each spring, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve comes alive with the seasonal surprises of the Mojave Desert Grassland habitat.  The duration and intensity of colors and scents vary from year to year.  The wildflower season generally lasts from as early as mid-February through late May, 

Eight miles of trails through the gentle rolling hills, including a paved section for wheelchair access, make the park a wonderful place to hike and explore any season.  Get away from the city and relax in the quietude of the countryside, with only the birds singing and hawks gliding silently overhead.  Benches located along the trails make good places to sit quietly and watch for wildlife, such as singing meadow larks, lizards zipping across the trail, gopher snakes and rattlesnakes.  If you're lucky, you may spot a coyote or bobcat.  Numerous burrows around the trails may house mice, gophers, kangaroo rats, beetles, scorpions, or others. 

NEW! Check out our YouTube video.

Facilities
The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center, offering wildflower and wildlife exhibits, an orientation video, a gallery of Jane's botanical watercolor paintings, and a gift shop benefiting our non-profit association, is only open during the spring wildflower season and for special events. 

Shaded picnic tables are available on a first-come/first-served basis year-round, with an interpretive display and a serene view over the valley to the San Gabriel Mountains. 

Hours
The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.

The Center is now open daily through April from 10 am - 4 pm weekdays and 9 am - 5 pm weekends for the duration of the wildflower season; closing date in May is to be determined. 

Parking Fees
$10 per vehicle
$9 per vehicle with a senior on board (62 and over)
$5 per vehicle with DPR Disabled Discount Card (see below)
 
Small busses (9-24 passengers): $50
Large busses (25 or more passengers): $100

Vehicle entrance for K-12 School Groups is free with advance registration.
Day-Use tickets are valid for entrance on the same day to any other California State Park charging the same or lower rates.
Click here for information on applying for our Golden Poppy, Annual Day-Use, Disabled Discount, Distinguished Veterans, and Golden Bear Passes. 

Please Note: Important Information!

Stay on the Trail!
Getting a picture of that one really nice wildflower will crush all the plants along the way and compact the soil, leaving lifeless bare dirt for the next few years or longer.  If someone else has started a trail, do not add to the damage. Please be a responsible park user and leave the park as nice as you found it.

Do NOT pick the wildflowers!
Everything is protected, from the tiniest wildflower to the rocks on the trail.  Poppies wilt immediately after being picked, and they carry the seeds that we need for the next year's wildflowers.

If you observe
other visitors going off trail or picking flowers, please alert staff at the visitor center or on the trails to address the resource violators.

Be prepared for wicked strong winds!
Spring is normally very windy which makes poppies curl up, so check the weather report first for general conditions.  The wind at the reserve is usually exponentially stronger than in Lancaster, so check our weather station for real-time wind speeds updated every hour. 
Also, remember to bring twice as much water as you think you'll need, and drink a lot of it!  The reserve is a cleverly-disguised desert and you don't feel how rapidly you lose water into the dry air. As the weather gets warmer, dehydration can suck the energy out of you quickly. There are water fountains, and bottled water is for sale at the Interpretive Center.
The desert temperatures can vary widely and change suddenly, so wear layers for unpredicted changes in weather. 

There is only one entrance.
On weekends during good wildflower blooms, the parking area can fill up by late morning.  The entrance gate is then closed and vehicles are only allowed in as others leave.  Entry through any other area along the boundary is prohibited; citations are being given for fence jumping. 
Parking is also available on Lancaster Road beginning 100 feet from the entrance (see signs), and visitors may park and walk in for free through the entrance gate only, staying on the roadway to the entrance kiosk.  Carpooling is recommended to maximize parking availability.

Drive with caution on Lancaster Road!
Where flowers are blooming near the road, watch for car doors swinging open, erratic driving as people take pictures out the windows, and children and dogs dashing out into the road.  Drivers may slow down suddenly to find a place to pull over, or stop in the middle of the road to take pictures, or are just not looking where they are going.  Please be patient and watch for the unexpected!

Rattlesnakes are out! 
Mojave green rattlesnakes are active in the daytime on cool to warm days, and in the evenings on hot days.  They are not aggressive and will not attack unless startled or threatened; they make you aware of their presence because they want to avoid a confrontation.  If you encounter one on a trail, it will most likely move out of your way if you give it space.  Rattlesnakes are an important part of the food web and are also protected.  Without them, rodents could overpopulate and consume the flowers that the park is famous for.

Rattlesnakes are in all fields. 
Rattlers are common in wildflower fields througout the valley, and people running into the fields outside the reserve to be in a picture among the poppies results in snake bites every year.  Walk slowly in fields and watch where you step. Within park boundaries, going into the wildflowers is prohibited, for your safety and for the health of the habitat.

Do not bring dogs
Dogs are NOT allowed on trails or in the visitor center, with the exception of service dogs. Dogs cannot be left alone in cars; there is no shaded parking and the desert quickly heats vehicles.  We request that service dogs wear distinguishing markers to avoid misleading other visitors.

More about the Reserve

The Antelope Valley is located in the western Mojave Desert at an elevation ranging from 2600--3000 feet, making it a high desert environment. 

This State Natural Reserve is located on California's most consistent poppy-bearing land. Other wildflowers: owl's clover, lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis, to name a few, share the desert grassland to produce a mosaic of color and fragrance each spring. As unpredictable as nature - the intensity and duration of the wildflower bloom varies yearly.  California State Parks does not water or use any other means to stimulate the flowers; the land is preserved to only be influenced by the natural forces that had once influenced all of our surroundings.  The broad views of this landscape provide eyefuls of brilliant wildflower colors and fragrance. Whether you most enjoy expansive fields or the close-up study of a single flower, this is the place to visit.

Location - Directions

The Reserve is located 15 miles west of Lancaster at 15101 Lancaster Road. 
From Highway 14:  Take the Avenue I exit and head west 15 miles.  Avenue I becomes Lancaster Road. 
From I-5:  Take Hwy 138 east and turn right on 170th Street West.  Make a left at the end, onto Lancaster Road.  Follow the road two miles. 
Latitude/Longitude: 34.72482 N, 118.41271 W

Make A Day Of It!

Your Day-Use entry ticket is valid for entry on the same day to any other California State Park charging the same or lower rates.  Camping fees are also valid for any other California State Park the next day.

While visiting the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, we also suggest you visit the Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, located seven miles west of the Poppy Reserve just past 210th Street West.  Here you will see a native Joshua Tree and Juniper woodland, one of the few left of this habitat which once spread across the Antelope Valley. In favorable conditions, Joshua Trees bloom with soft white artichoke-shaped flowers. There is a short self-guided nature trail located at the park and information panels about the woodland, and it's a haven for local wildlife so keep your camera ready.  Admission is free and dogs are allowed on-leash.  Watch for the sign on Lancaster Road and park along the fenceline; the pedestrian walk-through is adjacent to the locked vehicle gate on the north side of the road.

Saddleback Butte State Park is 32 miles east, with a Joshua Tree/creosote habitat that offers different wildflowers than the Poppy Reserve.  The park features camping, hiking, picnic tables, and a visitor center.

Red Rock Canyon State Park, 60 miles north, is the location of dramatic colorful cliffs that have been featured in hundreds of movies, TV shows, and commercials.  Take the Abbot Road exit of Hwy 14 for the campground, main picnic area, and visitor center.

For more information about all the California State Parks in the Tehachapi District, click on the link to the right.

·Park Information

  • Hours of Operation:

    Park Hours:
      Sunrise to Sunset.

  • Park Office Telephone:

    (661) 946-6092

  • Region

    Los Angeles County

    County

    Los Angeles

  • Purchase Annual Passes

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Current Wildflower Bloom Information

This website posts park wildflower bloom status updates from February through mid-May.

Poppy Reserve Wildflower Hotline
(661) 724-1180

Theodore Payne Foundation
Wildlflower Hotline
(818) 768-3533

Peak Poppy Bloom:

Wildflower blooms occur generally from mid-March through mid-May. The peak viewing period is usually mid-April.

Contact

Mojave Sector Office
(661) 946-6092
Email us

Staff does not have any additional poppy status information or predictions


Pertinent Rules:
 DO NOT BRING DOGS.  Dogs are not allowed on trails (with the exception of service dogs), and there are no parking areas that are protected from the sun.  Service dogs are requested to wear distinguishing markers to avoid misleading other visitors.

 No horses or mountain bikes on the trails.

 Visitors must stay on trails.

 Picking or destroying wildflowers in the park is a violation of State law. 
All features of the park are protected, including wildlife, rocks and historic objects and may not be collected without a permit.

You are responsible for knowing park rules and regulations.  For detailed information: California Code of Regulations



Accessibility
A manually-operated wheelchair is available for check-out at the visitor center during the wildflower season.  An ADA-compliant pathway leads from the disabled parking area to the visitor center, and extends a short way into the reserve.  The picnic area has wheelchair-accessible tables and can be reached by a paved pathway.  ADA-compliant restrooms are available in the parking area all day, and at the visitor center during their open hours.

Join our Announcement List!

Are you interested in being informed of upcoming events and activities in Antelope Valley's California State Parks?  Email our Event Coordinator with "Email List" in the subject line, and you will receive announcements for programs such as Dark Sky Parties, Junior Ranger Programs, Full Moon Hikes, Volunteer Trainings, Video Series, and more!