Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve: Fields of Color
Like Stepping into a Monet Painting in Southern California
Besides the poppies, you will see Owls Clover, Lupine, Coreopsis, Cream Cups, Fiddleheads, and a couple dozen other indigenous plants I cannot begin to name. You will also probably see a bunny or two chowing down on some of these exotically named plants.
This is an elevated valley that rises to 3000 feet above sea level, so it can be quite windy even on a sunny day, but being protected land that prohibits farming or grazing, it is the most productive area for the California Poppy.
Early Spanish residents called the poppy "dormidera" or the sleepy one, as its petals curl up as if going to sleep once the sun goes down. I was also told that they fried the petals in olive oil to make a hair tonic, but will not vouch for what may be an old wives tale.
From the large paved parking lot, I climbed a meandering path to the Jane Pinheiro interpretive center, named for a local artist who spent 35 years drawing and painting the local flora and fauna and a driving force behind the creation of the current park. Some of her watercolors are on display at the center.
Inside I was treated to several dioramas of the local critters likely to pop up along the trail, especially the infamous Mojave green rattlesnake, a park native that likes to sleep close alongside the trail. (Yes, it really is green!)
There is also a wonderful display of the hundreds of flower species you will encounter, and plenty of friendly volunteers to answer all your questions. Books on the area, wildlife, and flora, are all available at reasonable prices.
Like a Monet Painting
When the wind picks up the fields seem to sway in rhythm with it. Watching this wind make colorful waves over the hillsides, gave me the feeling of being on a boat in the center of the ocean
The trails were packed with people of all ages, some in strollers, others in wheel chairs, and all easily negotiating the well maintained walkways.
A Tiny Rattler Along the Trail
Wheelchairs are available if needed, but limited in number, so call ahead to reserve one. There are warning signs for the rattlesnakes along the trails, and visitors are urged not to wander off the trails into the flowers for photos. If you stay on the trail, you will be in no danger whatsoever.
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