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Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

After winter rains dry hills burst with new life striking with billions of technicolor orange poppies


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Having received enough water from winter rains, dry grasslands west of Lancaster come alive with vibrant flowering season every spring. Wildflower show usually starts in late February and continues with new and new blooms every day through May. Yet the most breathtaking part of the blooming season is the time of billions of orange poppies. It's just amazing when vast fields are nothing but technicolor orange. The season, as well as duration, varies from year to year, yet mostly it peaks around mid-March to mid-April. Still try to make it by the end of March, as in April the tender blossoms might be already gone, mainly due to slashing spring winds.

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is located in the western Mojave Desert at 800 to 900 m, so get ready for a high desert environment. Besides wicked winds, the air temperatures may range largely during a day, thus, layered clothing will be useful. Besides, you'll need more water than you imagine, so better take extra supplies.

It goes without saying that poppies are not allowed to be collected. Anyway, they would wilt at once, and the seeds necessary for the next crop would be wasted. In fact, as this is a state reserve, everything within its territory is protected, including every grass blade and tiniest stone. Also, make sure that your vehicle doesn't go off the main road. And note that dogs and other pets aren't allowed in the reserve. If you see any, it must be one of local staff's trained dogs.

The last, but not least—watch out for rattlesnakes. They are also protected for they regulate the rodents population, that would otherwise have eaten all the poppies. These snakes aren't aggressive, but they dislike to be bothered. They rattle their tails to warn you about their presence, but you should be cautious yourselves. So walk slowly across the fields and be careful where you step in.

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