The Desert Carpet Blooms Now

By Al Morrissette

(Victor Valley)– With a good rainy season coming to an end, it doesn’t take much for latent desert flowers to carpet the desert with beauty and color. Each year nature’s pallet produces a fragrant canvas that leaves you amazed and this year is no exception. Being that desert flowers have a short period of splendor, if you don’t take advantage of it, this beauty will pass you by for another season.

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is in its peak during the month of April showering the landscape with bright color primarily coming from California Poppies, Goldfields and Pigmy Lupines supported by Cream Cups, Coreopsis and Owl’s Clover. The 1,745 acre State Reserve is located 15 miles west of Lancaster on Avenue I. It offers seven miles of trails, including a paved section for wheelchair access that winds gently through the wildflower fields providing access for everyone. Open from Sunrise to sunset through April 25. Visitor’s Center hours are 9-5 weekends and 10-4 weekdays. A recorded message is available by calling (661) 724-1180.

Directions are simple; take Highway 138 west toward Palmdale and then jump on the 14 Freeway going north. Exit on Avenue I and head west 15 miles to the Poppy Reserve. To complement your visit, travel an extra 5 miles west to the Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park.

Antelope Valley’s only reserve of native Joshua Trees and Juniper Trees; you can follow a short nature trail located at the park that offers information about the ancient woodlands. Watch for the sign on Lancaster Road.

Another Day trip or weekend adventure of floral beauty is available at the Death Valley National Park located a few hours north of the Tri-Community. An easy way there is travel north on I-15 to Baker, turn left on State Hwy 127 to Shoshone and Death Valley Junction with connections to the park on State Route 178 from Shoshone and connection with California Highway 190 at Death Valley Junction. Hwy 190 has been closed due to the results of flash flooding, but is scheduled to be reopened this month.

We are in the middle of floral season for the park which provides over 1000 species of plant life including 13 cactus and 23 endemics only found in the valley. Now is a great time to view the floral splendor from the valley floor at Jubilee Pass and Furnace Creek. At an elevation from 2000 ft to above the 4000 ft. level, The Panamint Mountains provide a good show through early June. After that the flowers return to it’s dormancy until a future springtime. The draw from the wild flowers and current cool weather will encourage you to schedule other trips to the area as there are plenty of ghost towns to visit and other attractions such as Scotty’s Castle.

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