In a good rain year within a few hours drive north of Los Angeles you can drive through the high desert spotted with Joshua Trees and walk through green plains filled with dozens of varieties of wildflowers. The wildflower displays only last a couple of weeks (or days,) with temperatures running from chilly to heat wave hot.
Annual rainfall in Central California determines the best blooms throughout the south land. In 2015 there’s been sporadic rain while the state is in the throes of a drought. This year started well enough for the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve but the report just before the Solstice sadly tells of buds shriveled except on north facing slopes.
Time your visit to catch the best wildflower blooms:
- California Parks Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve Bloom Status
- Desert Wildflower Reports from Desert USA
Disclosure: In 2010, the rains fell and fell on Southern California, soaking parched fields and they were rejoicing with hillsides full of brilliant color. That’s the year these pictures were taken. The Poppy Preserve saw a moderate resurgence in 2016.
To get there: Drive out Hwy. 138 to the 58 and on through the Soda Lake plains on Hwy.223. We drove north on the I-15 and east past Wrightwood to avoid the Los Angeles traffic. If you go over the Grapevine on the I-5, you may see some smaller hillside displays. Take the Gorman Side Road that loops back to the freeway, for photo ops of purple, yellow and orange blooms.
Ready to stretch your legs and eat? Stop at the garish but fun Charlie Browns Farms (and restaurant) on the Pear Blossom Highway in Little Rock. It’s just east of Palmdale. The store is stocked with snacks and there’s a local ‘vintage’ wine tasting bar. You could wander the rooms full of displays, games, snacks for hours. Time your visit to try the Bar-B-Q. It’s delicious and the portions are Texas size.