One would think we would have taken the short car ride from Palmdale, California to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve earlier, since we live in the city but it actually one of the last ones to visit. During the spring time, this area is probably one of the most famous in the LA county area thanks to the California Poppies (hence the namesake). Tourists come worldwide to see the poppies in bloom, providing one of the highest income events in the area (in my opinion). The mountains and hills are supposed to be blanketed with blooms, as far as the eye can see or telescopic lens in a lot of cases. Due to just moving to the area and house searching, our visit during the poppy season was canceled until next year. Two weekends ago, we had a little free time so we adventured off to the reserve for a little fresh air. (Video Included)
This reserve is located about 20 minutes by car to the west of Palmdale, an easy drive through the high desert countryside. It’s a very calming drive, tons of fields surrounded by rolling hills and mountains, truly breathtaking in its own way. The reserve costs around $10.00 for parking per car, all year-around. There is no discount for non-poppy season. There is also a main building, complete with visitor center, which is only open during poppy season. No one is on duty on the off-season so please plan ahead and let people know when/where you are traveling for safety. Cell phones do have cellular towers, so if you have one please take it along just in case. There is no one for miles, so it can be a bit worrisome if something were to happen. A nice feature are the free bathrooms, open during off-season too at the main entrance parking lot. Oh and there are picnic tables too so you can take along a healthy vegan picnic and enjoy your adventure day out.
This view of the Tehachapi Mountains are from the hiking while going up to the Butte. If you remember a few months ago, Genki Husband and I were staying in an extended stay condo up in Tehachapi, so this view brought back memories of our first few months in this state as residents. We actually hiked this one too, see here. In the video, a closer photo is shown of the wind mill farm and the mountains.
A basic view of the dirt trails, clearly marked so one doesn’t get too lost. There are only a few markers, so on calm days such as this one, it is a little easy to go off trail from manmade “adventure trails”. The terrain is not strenuous however a few of the hills are a bit steep. For this reason, I would not recommend this for those that can easily loose ones’ footing and/or wheelchair bond individuals. There is supposed to be a paved trail however we could not find the entire trail, just a few steps of one. The office was not open, otherwise I would have asked for all of you interested.
A view from atop the butte, it is a very windy area but it is gorgeous for a few minutes. Just as a warning, the day we went the wind was extremely powerful and actually made it a bit difficult to breath at times. So please be careful. The solar panels in the photo is actually in the direction of Palmdale, these provide electricity for the area. The area is so vast, so the photo makes this solar farm look small but it is nothing of the sort.
Looking in the other direction atop the butte is the Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm. Although I am not certain, I have heard from someone that used to work on these windmills that there are hundreds of them. There is a car drive through these mountains from Tehachapi to the Mojave area, a gorgeous closeup view of the windmills. Another friends has said there is a hiking trail through the windmills, but is not a trail for everyone as some people can get sick due to the rotation of the blades. This is another trail we have yet to hike through on foot.
On the same day, we had planned on hiking through a state preserve however it was closed. Thankfully just by chance we ended up driving past this LA Aqueduct. It is just outside the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve by a few miles. There are signs that state DO NO TRESPASS however it also states people are allowed to fish, not swim. So we weren’t sure what the mixed message mention, so we played it safe and stuck to the side of the road and took a few photos.
To the west of the Aqueduct there is a Joshua Tree Reserve, so many to see each one couldn’t fit in a photo at once. This is a preserve, so no one is allowed (apparently not even fishers), so please be respectful since these trees are only grown in a few places of the world. These are absolutely gorgeous as no one is allowed to bother them.
My opinion of this reserve: Let me first start off in reminding you the area is popular for the poppies in the spring time. The photos I have seen from friends are absolutely gorgeous! I would definitely pay the parking fee for this sight to see. During the summer months, time we went, the area is a bit sparse and not much is available to see. There are vast desert colors, when looking closely, just not the same as in the spring time. Additionally taking into account the visitor center is not open and there are no rangers for safety measures during the summer, I have based my opinion upon these factors. Firstly, as said above, I would definitely pay the parking fee for the spring season during poppy season, however I would pass during the others seasons. The area is gorgeous however if you live in the area, the scenery is not that much different than every other place in the area for free. Secondly, I would be pressed to take friends visiting the area seeing as the reserve is not that difficult and not as rewarding as say the Pt. Mugu Mountain Hikes. When one reaches the top, there is a view of the mountains and desert fields, not an ocean. If I wanted a short trip to someplace new with younger kids, or less hiking fans as ourselves, I would suggest this area. It is a workout and I imagine younger kids would love freely running around the trails, releasing energy for the next week. It all depends on what you are seeking for a hiking trail and what part of the year intending on visiting.