As you recently read, we stayed in a tiny town with nothing much to do in California. Well, I got to exploring on another day and realized I needed to visit the poppy reserve not far from our RV park. The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is part of the California State Park system and offers some easy walking trails with fields of poppies and other wildflowers.
Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
First, did you know that the California poppy is the California state flower? I can see why!
However, I wasn’t that impressed with the poppy reserve. While I understand the idea of preserving the poppy fields, I honestly found the area around the reserve to have more poppies than inside the park. This whole area apparently used to be all poppy fields until agriculture hit and took over the land.
I did walk some of the trails and visit the vista points, but it wasn’t that impressive to me. At a cost of $10/person to get in and with a huge parking lot that fills quickly (it is close to LA, after all), I wouldn’t recommend this place unless you want easy trails to enjoy an hour walk. Also, you cannot have your dog and you cannot eat on the trail. You are only allowed to eat in the designated picnicking areas! I found that a little ridiculous, but maybe they had problems with people leaving trash and wrappers behind?
In any case, the day I walked the easy trails it was super windy and actually a bit on the chilly side. There were some wildflowers, but nothing spectacular. I’d save my money and drive around the area a bit as I found the poppies to be more abundant outside of the actual reserve. There are paved and dirt roads all around the area with poppy fields. There were no other people on some of the roads and barely any traffic outside the park. Keep in mind I went during the week. Weekend traffic will probably be heavier!
Also, please be respectful and don’t walk through the fields. It will kill the flowers and ruin the experience for others. I saw plenty of ruined flowers which made me sad.
Other Parks Nearby
While you are in the area there are 2 other state parks to check out. One is Ripley Desert Woodland (approximately 7 miles from the poppy reserve) which preserves joshua trees and pine forests and Saddleback Butte State Park. I didn’t visit either of the other parks, but they do say that your entrance fee to the poppy reserve will be honored at them.
Instead I chose to head to the “Blvd” which is the main street in the city of Lancaster, CA. I was pretty happy with my choice as I found this city to be quite fun.
Lancaster, CA – a little gem of city
Lancaster is currently home to major defense contractors such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, BAE, and government agencies, such as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, which are all active in design, testing, and manufacturing of a variety of military and commercial equipment. Notable projects assembled and/or designed there include the Space Shuttle orbiters, B-1 Lancer bomber, B-2 Spirit bomber, F-117 Nighthawk fighter, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, a wide body passenger jet aircraft. Lancaster is so rich with aerospace history it honors the people who served with an Aerospace Walk of Honor around the Blvd.
There are also murals around town that honor those who served the aerospace industry. But not all murals pay homage to the industry. There are plenty of them that are simply beautiful art! I was amazed by the murals actually. Is the mural below not beautiful??!?!
I also found it pretty awesome that city leaders have set the ambitious goal of becoming the nation’s first Net-Zero municipality, wherein they will produce more clean energy than they consume. Much of the city’s infrastructure including City Hall, local schools, and even their minor league baseball stadium are solar powered! As of January 1, 2014, Lancaster became the first city in the US to require solar panels on all new homes in an effort to make the community more carbon neutral. I think that is pretty awesome especially with the amount of sun out they get.
It offers the following to visitors and locals alike:
- Kinetic Brewing Company
- Museum of Art and History
- Music playing on the street
- Beautiful Murals on the buildings
- Restaurants, cafes and coffeehouses
- Antique stores
- Performing Arts Center
I enjoyed walking around the Blvd, photographing the murals and tasting some cupcakes from a local bakery. It would be easy to spend an afternoon enjoying some food, beer and fun in this city. I’m sure it offers more than the Blvd, its main street, but I, unfortunately, didn’t have time to explore further.
Why not stop in this neat city and visit the nearby sites? Have you been? What did you think?