While on our way back to Davis from the Los Angeles area, my fiancé Melissa and I decided to take a quick detour to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. She had never been there before and I hadn’t been there in almost twenty years, making this detour even more of an adventure. Due to all the rain that had passed through the area over the winter, nine inches to be exact, the reserve was expected to have a great bloom year. After heading over to the area on our way home, we were definitely blown away by the amount of poppies that filled the hills of the reserve and neighboring hillsides. There were a number of other flowers mixed in with the poppies as well but the bright orange glow of the poppies drowned out a lot of the other flower colors.


An Adventurous Detour

Despite the large crowds and immense amount of people when we arrived, we were able to enter the reserve and begin our walk among the poppy fields. At first glance the area was already covered in bright orange flowers, along with some other smaller, less abundant flowers like fiddlenecks and lupine. As we hiked up the main trail the orange hillsides began to fill our plane of view, making it seem as though there were orange blankets spread across the ground. The California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is annual or perennial flowering plant that is native to the United States and Mexico. It’s native habitat encompases a number of different states including California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, and can also be found in Sonora and northwest Baja California. This wonderful and vibrant orange flower also happens to be the state flower of California and was named as such in 1903.

We continued to explore the field of poppies for quite a while before heading back to the car to be on our way back home. On our way back to our vehicle we ended up chatting with a park official who had told us that the flowers we were seeing had been blooming for almost three weeks already. She said they have lasted this long because the flowers tend to curl up when it is cold or windy, allowing them to stay in bloom a lot longer than other flowers in the area. As we left the park and drove down the road a ways, we managed to also stop by Arthur B. Ripley State Park, which ended up being a pretty nice little add-on to our already amazing detour. There we saw a good number of Joshua trees, as well as a few more flowering plants that we hadn’t seen at the reserve. Seeing these very large and pointy plants was a pleasant experience and it was also the first time in a while we had seen these up close.

This area was literally right off the road and was an unexpectedly enjoyable side trip to our already awesome detour.

This small state park we stumbled upon made this brief detour on our way back home complete. At some point in time I would like to come back and visit this miniature state park so that I can explore it further because I know there was much more to be seen then just the Joshua trees and a few flowering plants. I encourage those who have not seen the poppy reserve to do so sooner than later because this wonderful and spectacular bloom will only last about another two weeks or so. After that the flowers will all be gone and the landscape will return to its normal brown colors, at least until next spring. As far as insects go, there were a few I saw including some blister beetles, but not enough to make mention of it sadly. I’m hoping that the next time I visit that area I will see many more insects and will be able to photograph/collect a few.


Being surrounded by these amazing flowers was definitely a nice feeling. (Photo Credit: Melissa Cruz)