Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Located 75 miles north of Los Angeles, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve has become famous for its rolling hills of poppies, painting the landscape with a sea of orange and yellow. With the abundant winter rains we have experienced this year throughout California, officials are predicting an above-average bloom. As with any natural environment subject to the rains, winds, and heat, the wildflower bloom varies in intensity and duration from year to year.

Antelope valley california poppy reserve

Blooming occurs between mid-February to mid-May, with the peak bloom occurring from mid-March to mid-April. As of February 2023, the poppies have yet to bloom. Be sure to check back in closer to March for more updates on the wildflower bloom!

General Info About the Poppy Reserve

The poppy reserve is nestled within a Mojave Desert grassland habitat, with eight miles of trails that meander through rolling hills to explore. Interestingly, the Antelope Valley is a high desert environment, with elevations reaching up to 3000 feet above sea level. The scenery can be beautiful in any season, but you don’t want to miss out on the vibrant wildflower display that occurs in spring. There is plenty of wildlife to spot, from hawks and kangaroo rats to lizards and even elusive bobcats.

California super bloom antelope valley poppy reserve

Poppies are the most predominant flower here, but they are accompanied by desert pincushion, blue dicks, California aster, blue lupine, yellow fiddlenecks, and pink filaree. Other native plants and flowers you may find scattered throughout the grassland are owl’s clover, goldfield, cream cups, and coreopsis.

The benches positioned along the trails are perfect for taking in the vast panoramic views within the reserve. When there aren’t large crowds, this can be an ideal tranquil day trip in nature away from the bustle of the city.

For an up-to-date flower watch, this Live Poppy Feed shows you what’s currently in bloom.

Best Trails in the Reserve for Wildflower Sightseeing

California super bloom antelope valley reserve poppies in a field

The visitor center is always going to be a crowded main hub while poppies are in bloom, and there are short paved paths to wander on. The main vista points in the reserve are the Tehachapi vista point and the Kitanemuk vista point, and these trails are usually fairly busy. If you’d like to venture into some less-crowded trails, try the Poppy Trail South Loop, Antelope Butte Trail, and Antelope Trail South Loop. The Poppy Trail North Loop is another path where you can find solitude even at busy times, as well as beautiful rolling hills blanketed in yellow wildflowers.

This Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve Trail Map is a great resource to print out before you head out on your wildflower hunt.

Know Before You Go

Prepare for wild spring winds and significant temperature fluctuations by dressing in layers and bringing a backpack with plenty of extra water. It’s easy to get distracted by the sea of poppies, but be watchful of rattlesnakes while walking on trails.


$10 per vehicle
$9 per vehicle with a senior on board (62 and over)
$5 per vehicle with DPR Disabled Discount Card

How to Get There and Preferred Routes

Per the California Parks Website:

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 for two miles. 

On busy days, the traffic can really back up on the route from Los Angeles to the reserve. Luckily, the good reporters at the Los Angeles Times have devised a decent workaround for Angelenos who want to shave time off their travels. Here’s what they say to do:

To avoid traffic jams on a narrow, winding canyon road, take the 14 freeway instead San Francisquito Canyon Road. Then bypass Avenue I, which is a straight shot to the reserve, and instead continue north to the 138 and take that west. You’ll see expansive fields of poppies as you approach the reserve. Turn left onto 170th Street, then left onto Lancaster Road. You’ll be free to park in the official parking lot or simply pull off on the side of the road (without disturbing vegetation) and hike in.

More California Wildflower Hotspots

For a comprehensive guide to the wildflower sightseeing locations throughout the state, visit MK Library’s 2023 Wildflower Guide! A couple of great wildflower hotspots include the Carrizo Plain National Monument and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Southern California.

Wildflower Hunting Etiquette

Wildflower viewing is a botanical pastime that many nature enthusiasts relish, however, it’s essential to observe proper etiquette to conserve the ethereal flora and its habitat in the beauty of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Let’s delve into a few cardinal rules:

  • Trail-blaze Responsibly: To keep the wildflowers and the ecosystem unscathed, stick to marked trails and avoid trampling delicate flora.
  • Do not pick flowers: Picking wildflowers is detrimental to the overall health of the environment and can diminish the experience for future onlookers. It’s illegal to pick California poppies, so it’s best to enjoy nature from afar.
  • Leash your pets.
  • Leave No Trace: Please pack out your litter.
  • Don’t Park on Vegetation: Parking on vegetation is an issue in wildflower hotspots, as it can compress the soil and detract from the natural beauty of an area. Park your vehicle in designated areas or on hard surfaces to preserve the environment for everyone to enjoy.
  • No Drone Zone!

By adhering to these guidelines, you can aid in preserving wildflowers for generations to come and make sure that everyone has a “blooming” good time!

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