Antelope Valley
Poppy Reserve

Photo by Gabe | Fuji X-E2


MARCH, 2017

Southern California
Road Trip

This year brought heavy rains, and with it, came the super bloom of flowers both in our local mountains and in areas more remote.

A few years ago, we trekked out to Lancaster to see the wildflowers, and this year, once we knew things were starting to pop, we made plans to head back out.

The most picturesque road to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve takes you through San Francisquito Canyon in Valencia, winding through the hills as you make your way North/East towards the high desert. Another route, which might be a little faster, is to take the Antelope Valley Freeway (14) passing through Lancaster to get to the reserve.

Knowing the crowds might be huge on the weekend, we both took a weekday off and headed out to the Poppy Reserve. We packed our camera and tripod, sun hats and bug spray, picked up some snacks and bottled water and hit the road.

Closeup of the poppies in bloom. Let's Photo Trip!

Closeup of the poppies in bloom

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2

As we neared the reserve, still several miles out, we could see poppies blanketing the hills in the distance. Bold streaks of bright orange flowers are hard to miss – even from so far away!

Poppies like the light: opening when the sun is shining, closing up when it sets. We planned our trip so that we’d reach the reserve in the afternoon when the flowers were in full bloom and to take advantage of the warm light. The local news makes a big deal when the flowers are blooming, and the parking lot at the reserve was at capacity.

Since we’d been once before, we knew the lay of the land. There are a number of trails that circle the park, climbing up and over hills to give you a great view of the hills both in and adjacent to the park. Flowers know no boundaries, and while the lines of the park are clear, the poppies grow wild all over these hills.

Everywhere we looked, for as far as the eye could see, beautiful, bright orange poppies, swaying in the breeze

The wind was strong on our visit (and every single day out here), so we zipped up our jackets and climbed a trail just out of the parking area. Lots of folks, big and small, were out here with their cameras enjoying the bloom.

The flowers in the park were great, and from our hilltop vantage point, we could see that at the far Eastern edge of the park, the bloom was taking off. We got our bearings straight and headed out on the trails that took us into this part of the reserve. The trails are all well marked, and we got a map of the entire park when we checked in. This area is really the farther reaches of the park, so not too many folks out here, but it was exactly where we wanted to be.

Everywhere we looked, for as far as the eye could see, beautiful, bright orange poppies, swaying in the breeze with the wild green grasses of the field. Like I said, we’d been out this way a few years ago, but it still took our breath away. Simply beautiful!

Poppy meadow. Let's Photo Trip!

Poppy meadow

Photo by Steve ~ iPhone 7Plus

Visitors at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Let's Photo Trip!

Visitors at the Poppy Reserve

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2

Roadside poppy bloom. Let's Photo Trip

Roadside poppy bloom

Photo by Steve ~ iPhone 7 Plus

Farmhouse in view. Let's Photo Trip!

Farmhouse in view

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2

We wandered around here in search of the “perfect” photo spot, but out here, they were all perfect! We unpacked the tripod and Gabe got into his mode: down on his hands and knees, laying flat on his stomach, getting the best angle to capture this beautiful bloom. We moved positions a few times and ended up in this particular field for at least an hour. The colors here were incredible: orange poppies, yellow goldfield, and purple lacy phacelia create a mosaic of color that changes daily.

We got some great shots here, so we headed back to our car and out to the road. On our way in, we’d seen a few hillsides covered in poppies with people pulled over on the embankments, out of their cars and climbing up for great photos. We found a few spots ourselves and did just that.

Hills in the park in the distance-Poppies in foreground. Let's Photo Trip!

Hills in the park in the distance

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2

Small patch of blooms. Let's Photo Trip

Small patch of blooms

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2

View of the valley from the Poppy Reserve. Let's Photo Trip!

View of the valley from the Poppy Reserve

Photo by Gabe ~ Fuji X-E2

Steve, Ethan and Gabe en route to Anacapa Island. Let's Photo Trip!

Steve & Gabe

iPhone 7 Plus

It was about three hours since we’d first arrived at the reserve, and our day was winding down.  We packed up and drove out through the canyon on our way back home.  If you’re able to do so, we urge you to visit the super bloom of poppies in the Antelope Valley, or in some of the many other areas that go wild after a strong rainy season!


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