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California Poppy Reserve
The California Poppy was named the California State Flwoer in 1903. Prior to that time great fields of opooies were found throughout the state, but today, poppies grow in many areas, but the only large fields are in the Antelope Valley -- in northeastern Los Angeles County.
To see the glorious fields of poppies that blanket the California rolling hills and valley in Antelope Valley is breathtaking. We visited the Poppy Reserve this spring, just days before the optimum bloom, but to breathe the fresh air, see the sweeping vistas of wildflowers (many species in addition to poppies make this area their habitat)...and to examine the closeup beauty of nature's flag that tells passing pollinators "Here I am, here I am" is a delight and inspiration.
Be prepared for strong winds and bright California sunshine -- bring sunblock, a hat and jacket! There are high populations of the Mojave Green rattlesnakes, so staying on the winding trails is important. You'll also see a variety of birds, ants, beetles, and maybe a shy coyote.
Seven miles of trails including a paved section for wheelchair access, wind through the wildflower fields.
The interpretive center and gift shop features educational displays of many of the plants and wildlife found on the Reserve. It highlights the efforts of Jane Pinheiro, whose efforts led the conservation efforts that helped establish the reserve. She labored untiringly to protect and preserve countless areas of wildflowers, Joshua trees and open land. Her dream of a poppy park where our state flower could be preserved was finally realized. Many of her paintings are displayed that show the beauty and diversity of the wildflowers she loved.
Wildlife that visit the Poppy Reserve are seldom seen, but if you look closely you might see signs of some of the more pervasive ants, beetles, and butterflies. Larger wildlife includes the bobcat, cottontail rabbit, coyote, roadrunner, painted lady butterfly, Mojave rattlesnake.
Overhead or visiting the native smorgasbord of blossoms, seeds and their residents, you can see or hear the red-tailed hawk, meadowlark, white-crowned sparrows and crows. You can spot holes in the pathways and nearby grassy borders that were dug by desert rats, burrowing owls and Antelope ground squirrels, and beetles. Lizards, California quail, ladybird beetles and snakes scurry through the grass and native plants.
The winds and rain are part of the spring experience at the Poppy Reserve -- so dress warmly, take an umbrella, and by all means, bring your camera! This is a sight for the spirit as well as for tired eyes
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