Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when entering a poppy field, you too might find yourself unable to run and getting sleepy once you reach the California poppy fields at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Unlike in the Wizard of Oz it won’t be because of a spell and you won’t need any snow to wake you. You may just be overcome with euphoria from the surrounding beauty. Take out your camera and begin to capture the colors and vastness. Just don’t pick the poppies! It is a violation of state law.
The remoteness of the location, beauty of the wildflowers, and the feeling of calmness you get while visiting are all strong ingredients for creating a very romantic day. Especially for those living in a populated city, this area will be a nice escape where you can spend time reconnecting with your loved one. We love these kind of experiences.
Rattlesnakes, high winds, and crowded parking lots, oh my! I am loving the Wizard of Oz references. Read more below on how to avoid these potential romance killers.
Visiting The California Poppy Fields:
On a beautiful and bright Saturday morning, we decided to take a visit seventy miles outside of Los Angeles to the area of Lancaster, CA which is home to the State Natural Reserve, located on California’s most consistent poppy-bearing land. Although there was not a yellow brick road to follow, we did drive along remote and windy roads with several cute country-like restaurants and shops for pit stops.
How To Get There:
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.
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Entering The Reserve:
The reserve is state run and can get very busy with visitors. When we arrived the parking lot was full and we had to park on the main road and walk about a mile to finally reach the poppies. Being a reserve devoted to protecting California’s state flower creates several rules and restrictions while visiting. Visitors must stay on the trail, cannot bring dogs besides service animals, and most importantly cannot pick poppies or other wildflowers.
The beauty and growth of the California poppy is dependent on the weather conditions delivered to the region. The winter of 2016-17 delivered a lot of rain and broke a long area drought, which is a good sign for a strong resurgence of the flower this year. However, park officials do not expect the area to be covered with a full carpet of flowers as the best years can deliver. You can check out the current conditions on the reserve’s website. It can get very windy as well and if it is too cold the poppies will curl up.
We spent time walking around the reserve, but then made our way back to the main road where you can get up close and personal with poppy. There is a visitor center and gift shop that we unfortunately did not go into. While driving to the reserve we saw a lot of people stopped off on the main road and wandering through the nearby patches of poppies. We found out that this is private land and most of it is for sale if you want to own a section of poppy filled land that you can never cut. While we don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting the actual reserve, the pictures you can take off the side of the road while trespassing on private land allow you to get much closer to the poppies. But, you also risk damaging them so be very careful where you step.
Watch out for Rattlesnakes:
It sounds cool that there are rattlesnakes roaming throughout the poppies. But, I surely do not want to see or be bitten by one. If you hear the sound of their rattle the park recommends that you back away and give it plenty of space. They are protected as well and are an important part of the ecosystem as they control the rodent populations that eat the poppies.
Make Music on the Road:
After visiting the California poppy fields we made a stop to check out the recently redeveloped Lancaster Boulevard know as The BLVD. There we had a beer at the Kinetic Brewing Company before hitting the road back to LA. This is a nice area to stop at and spend sometime at least getting something to eat and drink. But there are shops and at least one museum. On the way, we discovered Musical Road, which is a road that creates musical sounds due to the vibration of the tires and man-made groves on the road. It is hard to hear because I should have been driving the speed limit when I hit the road instead of starting from a full stop, but you’ll get the point from the video – Musical Road in Lancaster, CA. I can’t tell what the song is. But, let me know if you figure it out.
If you are looking for a romantic day trip near LA or just happen to be passing by, the poppy fields are worth at least a quick one-time visit if not an annual pilgrim if the beauty captures you. We eventually even saw Dorothy and the Tin Man.
Have you been to the Antelope Valley area or any California poppy fields ? If so, please share your thoughts and comments below.