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Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve Ready to Bloom

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Every spring, the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in the Mojave Desert turns into a landscape so lush and vibrant it could be mistaken for an artist's grand masterpiece. (Just take a gander at the above photo for a taste.) And, as this February 18 update from the Parks Department lays out, we're mere weeks away from the poppies blooming to their fullest:

The hills are covered with green, and a handful of poppies have already started blooming along the edge of the parking lot and along Lancaster Road. Filaree and loco week have also begun blooming, and some other small flowered species.

The protected reserve in the Mojave Valley contains the most consistent blooms of our state's flower, the California poppy, with this year's bloom predicted to be "very good to excellent." Generally, the field is in full bloom around mid-April, but will most likely hit their peak bloom a little earlier than usual this time out. That has to do with the lack of rain; less rain equals shorter blooms means fewer days to experience the explosive colors.

Due to the early bloom, this year the park will open its Jane S. Pinheiro Interpretative Center -- which contains wildlife and wildflower exhibits, a gallery of watercooler paintings, a video, gift shop, all the works -- on March 7th. The reserve is about 1.5 hours north of Los Angeles, just past Santa Clarita on the I-5, and costs $10 per vehicle for entry.

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