Antelope Valley - California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve


What? :

The Antelope Valley State Natural Reserve is located on California's most consistent poppy-bearing land.

This is the best place to see, during the springtime (around April), California poppy wildflower bloom, especially in a year with a lot of winter rain as it was in 2023.

The intensity and duration of the wildflower bloom varies yearly so check in advance the local conditions. 


Do not expect to be the only one here and have a solitude experience visit. This area do suffer from over-tourism. It is crowded and full of cars along the roads and many thousands of people in the fields.

But even with all the people around this is amazing place to visit and experience nature at it best.

Enjoy the view of the large flats grasslands and rolling hills covered with California poppy wildflower blooming.



Where? :

The preserve is in the far north-east corner of L.A. County and the south-west corner of the high Mojave Desert, just west from the city of Lancaster CA.


Coming from the east:

From Lancaster and highway 14 you need to drive west 13.6 miles (start on W Ave and then keep driving west on Lancaster Rd).

You will start to see more and more fields of California poppies on both sides of the road as you approach the park.


You can also arrive to the park from the west:

From I5 take highway 138 east, after 13.3 miles turn right into Lancaster Rd. keep driving for another 11.6 miles until you will see the park entrance on your left.


Google Map Link



When? :

The park is open year around, but I do recommend coming here in a year where winter had a lot of rain.

The exact timing of the few weeks when the flowers are blooming may be different from one year to the following, but it is usually around mid-April.


Important note: 
I will advise to visit and come here in the early morning, this is probably the only way to avoid the crowd and the traffic congestions.
The main problem with that is that you will need to wait for the flower to open up when it get warmer.


Due note 1: The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily year-round.


Due note 2:  Parking Fees: $10 per vehicle, credit card accepted. As Always, if you visit any other local California State Park show your receipt and get to enter with out the need to pay.


Due note 3: Shaded picnic tables are available on a first-come/first-served basis.


Due note 4: Stay on the official trails only!

Do not walk off trail and crush wildflower or plants.


Due note 5: Do NOT pick the wildflowers, everything is protected,


Due note 6: Dogs are NOT allowed in the park, except for trained service animals.


Due note 7: No Drone Zone, Drones are prohibited in the airspace above the reserve.


Due note 8: there is a large parking lot inside the park but it is getting full early in the morning and then they are allow car to enter when another on exit the park.

Parking is allowed on Lancaster Road beginning 100 feet from the entrance (see signs), and visitors may walk in through the entrance gate only.


Due note 9: As you are approaching the park and the area with flowers drive slowly and with caution.


Due note 10: The mornings during spring are usually nice and it can get windy at the afternoon.


Due note 11: No horses, bikes, food, or smoking on the trails.

Due note 12: There are many portable bathrooms in the park 


My thoughts:

After seeing the pictures from 2019 supper bloom, I waited patiently until the spring of 2023. I promise myself to find the time and drive here from San Francisco.


I was not disappointed, this is amazing site to see the endless fields of California poppy flowers blooming, covering the fields with strong orange color.


Yes, during weekends you will not be the only one here, there are many other people coming to visit this place, but the view is rewording.



The visit:


The Antelope Valley is 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. Looks like that this area as a perfect microclimate, soil conditions and large open grassland for wild California poppies flowers (the state’s official flower).


The super bloom only happens every couple of years, after a winter with a lot of local rain/snow.

Even in a year with a lot of rain the exact timing of the flower bloom is changing. And even when it happened you can have situations that after a week of very hot temperatures the flowers will die.

Check in advance before you visit if the flowers are blooming.


The poppy flowers are close each night and in cold temperatures and re-open when it is sunny and warm.

Even at spring it can be cold here and it is usually windy during the afternoon, bring warm cloth with you.


The park website state the following: “Get away from the city and relax in the quietude of the countryside” but when there are poppies flowers this park is overcrowded with visitors.

Do expect to see many peoples in the trails and viewing points as well as long line of cars heading to the park.


When I visit here during April 2023 some of the best blooms where outside of the park boundaries, mainly in the large open grassland plains east of the park (north of Lancaster Road).



Getting to the park:

The park is located west of the city of Lancaster, and while driving west you will start to see poppy fields few miles before reaching the park.


Drive with caution on Lancaster Road!

People are stopping suddenly alongside the road looking for parking spot, watch for car doors swinging open, and people crossing the road.


I did few stops near flower fields when driving to the park.


On of the most popular stopping point before the park is in a poppy field that were planted by people.

I do not know if this is private land or BLM. Looks like it is private but open to the public without any restriction.

Not clear why they plant the long strip of puppies, maybe this was planted to make sure there are enough poopy seeds for the following years.

The location of those poppy fields are exactly where the high-voltage electric power lines cross Lancaster Rd., right at the junction of Fremont Neenach Rd and Munz Ranch Rd.

This is a google map link to this spot.


Here there are beautiful flower fields, and many people parked their car and walk to enjoy the view.


You can park along the main roadside or turn right (north) into the dirt-road and drive along the powerlines deep into the open fields.

It is probably a private land, but I did not saw any gate or sign so do it on your one risk.

If you are visiting right after a rain and the road are wet, I will not recommend driving on dirt road that can get very muddy and you will get stuck.


When approaching the park with your car prepared to wait.

When I visit here 3:30pm at a weekend afternoon there was at least 45-minute traffic jam on Lancaster Road heading to the park and on the road leading inti the park.

As many others, I parked my car alongside Lancaster Road more than half a mile from the park entrance and walk to the park.


Hiking Trails:

Once you are in the park you will start your hike.


There are 8 miles of trails in the reserve.


Most visitors stick to the relatively short South and North Loop trails with a quick side trip to one of the nearby Vista Points.

There are trails that stay in the lower section of the park but the climb to the top of the hill is not difficult and highly recommended.

Always stay on the official trails and do not enter the fields.


There are few high-points location: Tehachapi Vista Point on the west, Kitanemuk just above the parking lot and Antelope Bute on the far east section of the park.


There is a local trail map, and the trails are clear.

You will always be able to find your way and you will not get lost.


You just need to walk and enjoy the view.

Decide on a loop you want to take; I really recommend climbing one of the vista points that provide you 360-degree view of the surrounding fields.


Although the park is crowded as you hike away from the parking lot there are less people around and you can find relax locations.
I spend here around 2 hours walking around and enjoying the view.


When I left the park just before 6pm there was still a line of cars waiting to get into the park. I always prefer to walk than to stand in carline.


If you did not make it during the supper bloom of 2023, wait for the next rainy year and make sure to visit this unique place, you will not regret the long drive.







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