5 Things to Know Before Your Date to the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
Michelle and I love road trips. We love seeing new places and are always looking for romantic gems in our area for a quick romantic getaway. While scrolling on Facebook, Michelle saw a repost from a friend showing off the “Super Bloom” happening at the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve. Naturally, we set a date two months ahead for our weekend getaway.
In many ways, we lucked out (partly because Michelle has planning and organization embedded deep within her genes). The weather was great and we had a wonderful time. I couldn’t help, however, but to see a few other couples that weren’t having such a great time. Visiting the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve can be so beautiful and romantic, it’d be a shame to miss out because of a few minor miscues. Here are 5 things that you must do to ensure you have the same experience as me and Michelle.
Choose the Right Weekend and Get There Early (This is a Must)!
Get to know the park’s website! During the spring, they post updates regularly, allowing you to choose a day where you can see the most blooms. It also allows you to keep track of the weather. The area can be very windy and you want to find a day that is a little warmer (more on this later).
Once you choose date, make sure you get there early! We’re talking 7:00 – 7:30 in the morning. The website states that the park is open from sunrise to sunset. Michelle and I got to the park at about 7:45 and there were already 30 cars in the parking lot. By the time noon rolled around, it was almost impossible to get it. Dozens and dozens of people parked on the main road had to walk in (some over a mile away).
Parking: Just a Bonus Tip
Parking at the reserve is $10. They say they accept cards, but it is always safe to bring cash (in small bills). In fact, they were so reluctant to break a $20 bill that they let us go in with $8 in one’s.
DON’T PARK NEAR THE BATHROOM! The one mistake we DID make. As you can imagine, with hundreds of people visiting, the lines got a little long and extended well into the parking lot (blocking off our car). Luckily, my wife has excellent traffic control skills (something new I learned about her), and we were able to get out relatively easy.
Speaking of Bathrooms, Head to the Visitor’s Center
Inevitably, one of you will have the need to use the restroom during your trip. Waiting 30-45 minutes to use the facilities near the parking lot can cut into your romantice drastically. Instead, use the bathrooms near the visitor’s center. There were almost no lines for men (as opposed to the coed waiting line in the parking lot) and a much smaller line for women.
Wear Comfortable Clothes!
When you hear “poppy fields” you may expect a flat, luscious field where you and your significant other can run hand-in-hand, at least that’s what we thought. Well, we were wrong. There was some significant hiking involved. I’d give you the total number of steps, but unfortunately our FitBit’s were dead. We estimate that we walked between 6-8 miles the entire time we were there (you can get a map of the trails that shows distance in the visitor’s center). Make sure you are prepared for a hike.
Luckily, we had that covered. There were others that weren’t so lucky. We did see a few girls in wedges and short dresses, and countless people in flip-flops. Don’t be those people. Plus, talking to one of the rangers, they apparently have rattlesnake sightings every day (although Michelle and I think this is to scare people from leaving the trail). Regardless, a snake bite (or blister) on your foot could kill the mood.
I can’t tell you how many times we heard, “when do the poppies open up?” from other visitors along the trail. I said to be early, and that is a must to avoid the headaches of traffic, but be aware that the poppies won’t fully open until between noon and 1:00 o’clock, depending on the temperature. That is why it’s important to find a warmer day to visit. Most of the morning was spent walking the trail, observing the “taquitos” (a name we gave the unopened poppies because, well, they look like taquitos). Take these few hours to find the parts of the park that have the most blooms, or bring some breakfast and have a picnic (there are tables available)! This is also the perfect time to just be together! Hold hands, watch the poppies open before your eyes, and soak in the romance!
The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve was amazing and Michelle and I had such a romantic time together! If you decide to visit with your partner, make sure you use the tips above to ensure the same romantic experience as us!
I wanted to end this post with a picture of a Joshua Tree. Driving through the Mojave Desert, Michelle and I thought were in a scene from The Lorax. We had some good times joking about these funny looking plants. Subsequently, now I know way too many facts about Joshua Trees, aka Yucca brevifolia, aka humwichawa. Learning new things with Michelle is just another reason I love these little romantic trips! Happy Dating!