Tips For Seeing (Or Sidestepping) At The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve In Lancaster
The California poppy fields are a springtime visual delight provided by nature but there are things you need know before you invest the time to see them.
Especially if you’re making the two-hour drive from Los Angeles. PubClub.com experienced this when we went to visit the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in Lancaster and we are passing along what we learned from the trip.
1.) What To Expect With The Poppies
The most important thing to do is to adjust your expectations. From pictures, I had expected the poppies to be tall and the experience to be that of wandering through large fields of waist-high flowers. It’s not that way at all; the poppies, in fact, are (or at least when we were there in 2017), only about an inch in length. You have to get down low to get photos. They never get a whole lot taller, either. To me, this was a disappointment. Then again, the flowers were not in their full glory but still, driving two hours to see inch-high flowers in a field was not exactly what I was anticipating and thus was a bit disappointed in the poppy experience.
2.) Don’t Park At The Preserve
This is not because it’s $10 and you can park along the side of the road for free (just be sure and park beyond the no-parking signs) but because the fee collectors must double as Rose Bowl concession workers in the fall. Anyone who has spent an entire quarter just to get a soda at the Rose Bowl can understand what we mean by this; the money collection process is so slow traffic backs up a quarter of a mile to the street, making it take 30 or more minutes just to get into the park. Better to park for free and walk.
3.) The Poppies May Be Better Outside Of The Preserve
Just to the east of the entrance, perhaps a quarter of a mile and where you can park for free, are more poppies that are outside of the reserve. Here, you can take the ultimate selfies in an area full of the flowers. The area is small and has paths to walk. If the poppies are just so-so in the preserve, you’ll get more out of your time here; just be sure and watch out for snakes. Yes, snakes! (So a local tell us; maybe they were pulling our leg; snakes are not likely to come out with a bunch of people around but at least be on alert.)
4.) Seeing The Poppies Can Take 20 Minutes To Two Hours
Walking into the preserve, we encountered a friendly lady in her 60s who reported to us that the poppies were “just wonderful!” She spent two hours walking through the field. (She advised walking to the right of the parking lot but of course we did not listen and took the path to the top of the hill). What she saw we could not imagine. Frankly, I was done in about five minutes but again, this was not prime poppy time and we were short on time so did not get to explore the entire preserve. I would say, depending on one’s level of interest, that you should plan on spending around an hour, perhaps up to 90 minutes.
5.) Stay On The Trails
There are reports of people picking the poppies and trampling on them; even if you don’t step directly on them, by going off the trails you can damage the roots of the flowers and affect future blooms.
6.) Plan To Stay A Night In Lancaster
Lancaster is a nice destination, far nicer than you may realize, in fact. There are several nice, clean mid-range modern hotels and hotels/suites in which to stay; The Blvd., has very good restaurants plus lively nightlife with a club and bar that has a bowling alley and a happening wine bar; and there’s a fill-the-belly diner for breakfast where Elvis makes an occasional appearance.
And while there, be sure and take a drive along the musical road.
Directions To The Lancaster Poppy Fields
• Highway 14 to Avenue I, and head west for 15 miles. Avenue I becomes Lancaster Road.n
• Address: 15101 Lancaster Road, Lancaster, CA