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Wildflower Watching for Spring 2019


As of February 18, 2019, the Poppy Reserve had received rain amounts similar to 2017. In 2017, on February 18, the season total was 10.09. Two years later the total is ahead of 2017 at 10.97 inches. The total for the rainy season in 2017 at the Poppy Reserve ultimately was 10.34 inches. (The rainy season starts over every year in October). 2017 was not a “super bloom” at the Poppy Reserve but a good bloom that brought thousands of visitors and daunting lines for entry, purchases in the gift shop and even to use a bathroom! Will we have another good bloom in 2019? Of course only time will tell but certainly it is trending in that direction. With that in mind, we have some recommendations for flower watchers to make your spring 2019 wildflower trips  to the Antelope Valley and areas nearby as enjoyable and peaceful as possible! (See links to the left more details.)


Poppy Reserve: The Jane Pinheiro Interpretive Center will be open March 1 through Mother’s Day.  Call the wildflower hotline for current information concerning the bloom: 661 724-1180.  Also, come early! The interpretive center hours are 9 -5 on weekends and 10 -4 on weekdays. Suggest coming before the center opens for easiest entry and get some hiking in before visiting the interpretive center. When you visit the center, be sure to ask for the informative  Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Plant Species List.  And if you haven’t done so already, purchase a copy of Milt Stark’s A Flower-Watcher’s Guide to Wildflowers of the Western Mojave Desert. The Plant Species List reflects the changes made to scientific names since Milt’s book was published and makes a great companion guide to the book.   Also, consider preparing for your trip in advance by downloading a trail map and park brochure, available on And of course, stay on the trails!


Saddleback Butte State Park: In 2014, there was a spectacular bloom at Saddleback. By March 9 there were golden fields of California coreopsis, suncups and goldfields. Gilia, wild rhubarb and dune primrose were abundant. How does this year compare to 2014? Already, Saddleback has had more rain! Current rain total is 3.09 inches. In 2014, totals were 1.25 on February 18 and 1.99 by mid-April. Saddleback has a campground, picnic area, hiking trials and a visitor center that is open on weekends 10 am to 4 pm.


Ripley Desert Woodland State Park

Joshua trees at Ripley already are producing their luminous creamy blooms and many Juniper trees are covered with berries.  Only 7.5 miles west of the Poppy Reserve, Ripley has many flowers not commonly found at the Reserve including purple sage, Parry gilia, and scarlet bugler. This park has nature trails, covered picnic area and information panels. Like the Poppy Reserve and Saddleback, Ripley is also supported by the Poppy Reserve Mojave Desert Interpretive Association.


Red Rock Canyon State Park: north of Mojave, this large park is spectacular year round. In years with good rain, it has abundant wildflowers. My favorites are the red mariposa lily and the lovely lavender alkali lily. Ask in the visitor center for information about wildflower blooms. This park is supported by the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association. Their website has information about the park including camping, hiking and wildflowers: www.redrockrrcia.org.


Los Angeles County Wildflower Sanctuaries: In the Antelope Valley there are at least 12 different  Los Angeles County Wildflower Sanctuaries. These sanctuaries are not parks, there are no services or marked trails. Some take some work to find! However the county does have a website with more information and generally signage to let you know you have arrived. Links to those websites are above on the left


Near the Poppy Reserve and just south of Ripley is my favorite: the George R. Bones Wildlife Sanctuary formerly known as the Desert Pines Sanctuary.

This beautiful 99 acre sanctuary is located on the edge of the Mojave Desert, immediately north of the Liebre Mountains. It features great views of the valley below and mountains above and protects gray pines and Joshua trees. With rain totals this year similar to the Poppy Reserve, it will undoubtedly have wildflowers. Suggest visiting in March or April, bring water, use care in navigating the dirt roads that lead to the sanctuary, and respect privacy of nearby landowners.


Links to more LA County Sanctuaries are above on the left.



Thank you and happy flower watching!