Antelope Valley Poppy Reserves

15101 Lancaster Rd
Lancaster, CA 93536
(661) 724-1180


Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve Park



Poppy Reserves April 09

Poppy Reserves October 09

Topics Addressed

  • Plant Anatomy
  • Desert Biome
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Climatology


    6th grade

    Energy in the Earth System

  1. Many phenomena on Earth's surface are affected by the transfer of energy through radiation and convection currents. As a basis for understanding this concept:
    1. Students know the sun is the major source of energy for phenomena on Earth's surface; it powers winds, ocean currents, and the water cycle.
    2. Students know solar energy reaches Earth through radiation, mostly in the form of visible light.
    3. Students know heat from Earth's interior reaches the surface primarily through convection.
    4. Students know convection currents distribute heat in the atmosphere and oceans.
    5. Students know differences in pressure, heat, air movement, and humidity result in changes of weather. 

    Ecology (Life Sciences)

  1. Organisms in ecosystems exchange energy and nutrients among themselves and with the environment. As a basis for understanding this concept:
    1. Students know energy entering ecosystems as sunlight is transferred by producers into chemical energy through photosynthesis and then from organism to organism through food webs.
    2. Students know matter is transferred over time from one organism to others in the food web and between organisms and the physical environment.
    3. Students know populations of organisms can be categorized by the functions they serve in an ecosystem.
    4. Students know different kinds of organisms may play similar ecological roles in similar biomes.
    5. Students know the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and on abiotic factors, such as quantities of light and water, a range of temperatures, and soil composition. 

Description of the field trip

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. Although the wildflower season generally lasts from as early as mid-February through mid-May, the park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset.  Fall is also a pleasant time to visit, as the days are normally warm with milder winds.  

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.

Tentative predictions about next spring's bloom will be posted in February.  There are many conditions that combine to affect the wildlfower bloom, and the exact formulas are still not fully understood.  

The Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretive Center, offering a short video, wildlife and plant displays and gift shop, is open daily during the wildflower season.  Nearby, 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. 

Group tours may be arranged throughout the year by calling (661) 942-0662.

Parking Fees
$8 per vehicle
$7 per vehicle with a senior on board (62 and over)
$4 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 Golden Poppy, Annual Day-Use, Disabled Discount, Distinguished Veterans, and Golden Bear Passes. 

Please Note!
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.
If You Visit...

Be prepared for wicked strong winds and bring sunblock!  The desert temperatures can vary widely and change suddenly, so bring layers for unpredicted changes in weather.  Check the local weather station for real-time wind speeds updated every hour.  

Dogs are NOT allowed on trails with the exception of service dogs.  Park rangers request that service and medically-necessary dogs wear distinguishing markers to avoid misleading other visitors.

After visiting the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, you should 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.

Additional nearby State Parks are Saddleback Butte State Park 32 miles east, and Red Rock Canyon State Park 60 miles north.

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. Until the early 1970's sheep grazed the buttes, but park management has excluded sheep.  Pronghorn Antelope grazed long before then, until the railroad of the 1880’s brought recreational hunters in numbers too great for the species to recover.  

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. 

Study Guide

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserves Study Guide.doc


        Why does the Antelope Valley have the only poppy reserves in the state?

        Why is there a constant wind from the southwest in the afternoon/evenings in the A.V.? answer

References and Links

Wikipedia article on poppies

Information page on the Reserves

LA Times Travel Guide

California State Parks Guide

Natural Born Hikers