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Wildflower update April 7, 2021: With unusually frequent “superblooms” over the last few years, it may seem like they are the rule instead of the exception. In reality, an average wildflower showing is much more common. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve has received less than 2 inches of rain for the water year so far, which is only 1/5 of what is necessary for masses of wildflowers. It doesn’t appear that the rain earlier this year will produce a good bloom. The wildflowers blooming throughout the reserve are very sparse this year. Before making the trip out to visit, please check the park’s webcam, which gives a real-time view of the rolling hills. Check the live poppy camera: www.parks.ca.gov/live/poppyreserve
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The ADA trail was expanded last year and is now 0.7 mile long. It winds around part of the Poppy Trail North Loop. We look forward to having the Poppy Reserve more accessible for everyone.
Please remember, visitors must stay on OFFICIAL TRAILS only; photos in the flowers are not allowed in the park. Walking in the poppies creates dirt patches and may result in a ticket. DO NOT walk where others have already damaged the habitat; it will compound the damage and leave a scar for years to come.
Commercial and student filming/photography requires a permit. No dogs, bikes on trails, drones, or picking flowers.
Poppies open up in mid morning, and curl up in the late afternoon/evening or if it's cold, so check the weather forecast before leaving. The weather can change suddenly and it is frequently windy here during the spring. This is a DESERT grassland, so drink water often. Note that it can be very windy here in the spring.
Weekly bloom updates will be posted through Mother's Day.
NEW THIS YEAR: Additions to the Cell Phone Tour! Smartphone users can go to PoppyReserve.oncell.com and watch for notifications along the trails. Learn about the natural and cultural history of the reserve, with photos and audio stops.
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 May, with a variety of wildflowers creating a mosaic of color that changes daily.
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 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 meadow larks, lizards, and gopher snakes. If you're lucky, you may spot a coyote or bobcat. Numerous burrows around the trails may shelter mice, gophers, kangaroo rats, beetles, scorpions, or others.
Download our trail map.
Check out our YouTube video.
The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center is open March 1st through Mother's Day, with wildflower and wildlife exhibits, an orientation video, a gallery of Jane's botanical watercolor paintings, and a gift shop benefiting our non-profit association. The Interpretive Center is only open during the spring wildflower bloom 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.
The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.
Exact change appreciated. Visa and Mastercard accepted.
$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
School Groups: Vehicle entrance for K-12 school groups is free with advance registration faxed to (661) 946-6116 or scanned and emailed (See below regarding tour reservations). Fee waiver only applies to schools and homeschool groups; other school-age groups and organizations do not qualify.
Same-Day free entry: Parking fee receipts are valid for entrance on the same day to any other local California State Park charging the same or lower rates; entrance is free for those camping at a California State Park.
Park Passes:Click here for information on applying for our Golden Poppy, Annual Day-Use, Disabled Discount, Distinguished Veterans, and Golden Bear Passes.
Group tours (minimum of 10 people) may be arranged by email for weekdays only. Tours for schools and not-for-profit groups are free; for-profit groups are $5 per person. Day-use entrance fees still apply (see above for waiving K-12 school entrance fees)
Stay on the official trails only!
Getting a picture of one really nice wildflower off the trail 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. Follow the trail map to avoid compounding damage to illegal trails. 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. Damaging or collecting anything from the park is prohibited. Poppies wilt immediately after being picked, and they hold the seeds that we need for the next year's wildflowers.
Do not bring dogs
Dogs are NOT allowed, with the exception of trained service animals. Comfort animals are not trained service animals, and are not permitted. Pets cannot be left alone in cars; there is no shaded parking and vehicles quickly heat to fatal temperatures. We request, but do not require, that trained service dogs wear distinguishing markers to avoid misleading other visitors.
No Drone Zone
Drones are prohibited in the airspace above the reserve for several reasons, including the visual threat to wildlife and intruding on visitors' experience. For detailed information on the Posted Order and State authority over airspace, click here.
Be prepared for wicked strong winds!
Spring is normally very windy. Mornings can be calm, but check the weather report first for general conditions. Poppies also curl up if it's too cold out for pollinators. You can also check our weather station for real-time wind speeds, rainfall, and temperature updated every hour. The desert temperatures can vary widely and change suddenly, so wear layers for unpredicted changes in weather.
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.
Enter only through entrance gate.
Entry through any other area along the boundary is prohibited; citations are given for fence jumping.
Parking is allowed on Lancaster Road beginning 100 feet from the entrance (see signs), and visitors may walk in 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 in the fields!
Mojave green rattlesnakes are active in the daytime when it's warm, and in the evenings on hot days. They are not aggressive and will not attack unless startled or threatened; they rattle their tail to alert you of their presence and avoid a confrontation. If you encounter one on a trail, give it space and it will most likely move out of your way. Alert staff if it is curled up adjacent to the trail. Rattlesnakes are an important part of the food web and are also protected; without them, rodents would overpopulate and consume the flowers that you came to see.
Safety outside the reserve: Rattlers are common in wildflower fields throughout the valley, and people running into fields for a picture among the poppies encounter rattlesnakes every year. Walk slowly in fields to give rattlers a chance to alert you, and watch where you step. Rattlesnake avoidance training for dogs is highly recommended. Be aware that all lands adjacent to the Poppy Reserve are private property.
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.
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. A State Park camping receipt is also valid for entry to any other California State Park the next day.
While visiting the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, we also suggest you visit Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park, located seven miles west of the Poppy Reserve just past 205th 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 are two self-guided nature trails 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; park on Lancaster Road and enter through the pedestrian walk-through gate on the north side of the road.
Saddleback Butte State Park is 32 miles east, with a Joshua Tree/creosote habitat that features different species of wildflowers than the Poppy Reserve. The park offers 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 Ricardo Campground and picnic area, and the visitor center.
Click for information about all of the California State Parks in the Great Basin District.
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
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