Sunday, April 20, 2014

Photo Essay: Poppies Peaking in Antelope Valley

Every year since moving to LA, I've managed to visit the Antelope Valley during poppy season, and haven't seen much of anything.

I did see carpets of orange and purple in the distance last year at Tejon Ranch, and some other wildflowers up close, both there last year and at Saddleback Butte this year.

But we Californians have this thing about poppies.

Is it because it's our state flower? Or did it become our state flower because of it?

I'm new here, so I haven't figured that out yet, but I've been monitoring the bloom in the Antelope Valley, and jumped in the car this weekend once it seemed to be peaking.



Everybody goes to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, a state park in Lancaster which apparently has had an impressive display in years past, but this year, a more breathtaking explosion of color can be found alongside of many different nearby roads – including Lancaster Road (outside of the park), Avenue I, and by Lake Elizabeth.



Near the intersection of Munz Ranch Road and Elizabeth Lake Road...



...there were poppies galore, giant poppies the size of your palm.



And not just orange poppies:



...but also the lavender-colored lacy phacelia...



...yellow poppies...



...and sunflowers.



Plenty of people had parked their cars along the side of the road...



...in order to climb up a sandy wash...



...that made for a makeshift trail...



...that led you out from orange into purple...



...where, higher up, the lupine dominated.



Places like this, you appreciate the purple...



...for making the orange stand out more.



Although we'd already seen the best poppy display we were going to see in the Antelope Valley...



...we still headed to the Reserve to walk the proper trails...



...and see a larger, but less concentrated, distribution of California poppies.



It's a lovely area of rolling hills and wide open spaces...



...rife with rattlesnakes...



...and exposed to high winds...



...from which the poppies shy and shrink away.



Are the poppies alone worth the drive? Maybe this year. But they're a good excuse anytime to take a little road trip to the Mojave, drive on the Musical Road, visit a winery, eat some local Mexican food, and gawk at the joshua trees and all of the other living things that the desert has to offer.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: An Explosion of Wildflowers in the Antelope Valley