Photographed by Garry Hayes
A short drive north of Los Angeles, in Antelope Valley, you’ll find a sight that’s unlike anything in the urban sprawl of the City of Angels: electrifying orange blooms blanketing a rolling hillside, stretching as far as the eye can see, with nary a building or man-made anything in sight. It’s an unreal scene right out of a movie. You half expect Maria and the Von Trapp kids to come twirling into the picture crooning in unison. Except those mountains in the back? They are California’s Tehachapi to the north and the San Gabriels to the south — and not the vertiginous Mehlweg in Bavaria. Welcome to Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, a 1,800-acre park that’s dedicated to that sun-hued state flower. Just one word of advice to those visiting (and, if you’re in town, we highly recommend you do): Don’t pluck any of the poppies for a floral souvenir — it’s illegal there.

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