Antelope Valley in Southern California is a region in the north end of Los Angeles County and eastern Kern County.
|Kern County |
Northern portion of the Antelope Valley, including Mojave, Rosamond and most of Edwards Air Force Base
|Los Angeles County |
Southern portion of the Valley, including major population centers of Lancaster, Palmdale and Quartz Hill
- 1 California City- Master-planned city which never did as well as expected
- 2 Lancaster - Lancaster provides extensive services for travelers, as well as the whimsical "Musical Road", a recreation of a road built in Lancaster for a Honda commercial that has grooves cut into it that generate an approximation of the William Tell Overture when a car passes over them.
- 3 Palmdale - In 1962 Palmdale became the first city in the Antelope Valley to incorporate, and today it is home to over 150,000 people. While it lacks exciting tourist destinations, the town does offer a vast number of hotels, restaurants and other services for travelers.
- 4 Antelope Acres - Antelope Acres is a farming community of several thousand that also serves somewhat as a bedroom community for surrounding cities and towns. Long an agribusiness center for production of alfalfa and ranch fodder, the settlement has also built large solar energy farms supplying power to Southern California Edison. The state flower is common, grows wild in the area.
- 5 Gorman - Gorman is an unincorporated community in a cluster of small towns along the top of the pass along Interstate-5 leading to the Grapevine and down into the California Central Valley. A convenient stop for lodging, food or services, Gorman sits 2 miles from the western end of highway 138, the route leading east off of I-5 into the Antelope Valley.
- 6 Leona Valley - Leona Valley is best known for its agriculture, particularly cherries and wine grapes. The town of Leona Valley holds its annual Leona Valley Cherry Festival in honor of its agricultural heritage, and there are several self-pick cherry farms open to visitors.
- 7 Llano - Llano is an unincorporated community 25 miles southeast of Palmdale, that was once the site of a failed socialist commune, the Llano del Rio Colony, of which the ruins still stand. Founded in 1914 by Job Harriman and briefly the home of Aldous Huxley, the commune was abandoned in 1918. The current settlement of Llano now stands on Highway 138 leading into the Mojave Desert amidst occasional diners and other quirky roadside attractions.
- 8 Mojave - Mojave is a hotbed of aerospace activity, with the Mojave Spaceport the headquarters of Scaled Composites, the first private company to launch a human into space. Edwards Air Force base, a landing site for the space shuttle and a center for the development of experimental aircraft, is located adjacent to the town.
- 9 Neenach - Neenach is an agricultural settlement in northwestern Los Angeles County, California, with a population of about 800. It is facing massive change with the proposed construction of a 23,000-home planned community to its north by the Tejon Ranch Company. The California Aqueduct passes directly through Neenach on its way to the Perris Reservoir in Riverside County.
- 10 Rosamond - Rosamond is primarily a bedroom community in the desert of the Antelope Valley, although it does have food and lodging options for tourists, and is home to a non-profit center dedicated to feline protection where visitors can see cats ranging in size from the tiny fishing cat up to the Siberian tiger.
- 1 Pacific Crest Trail — a National Scenic Trail network spanning the entire state of California. In the Antelope Valley it follows the northern edge of the San Gabriel range and then descends into the valley at Neenach, with legs into the Poppy Loop and Antelope Butte Trails, and also north into Neenach alongside the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
The Antelope Valley is an arid plateau located between the Tehachapi and San Gabriel Mountains. It enjoys clear air and strong winds, and fantastic visibility. While not everyone will appreciate the rugged beauty of the desert and the rugged mountains nearby, others find the scenery spectacular. Dotting the landscape are the Antelope Valley's trademark Joshua Trees, which only grow in the Mojave Desert.
The Antelope Valley began as a community nearly a century ago. Its original industries were agriculture and mining, and those persist to this day with boron and copper mining going on in the northern hills and carrots and onions growing in the outlying areas. However, the region is now dominated by the aerospace industry, with the core work being done in and around either Air Force Plant 42 or Edwards Air Force Base. Economically, the area is dominated by its two largest cities, Palmdale and Lancaster. Between the two cities, a population of over 500,000 people call the Antelope Valley home. Roughly half of the breadwinners in the area commute to jobs closer to the nearby urban center of Los Angeles, but the others work near where they live. Attracted by affordable housing, clean air, and freedom from the crowding and congestion of the big city, the residents of the Antelope Valley (or "A.V." to the locals) also boast proximity to some interesting local attractions.
The Antelope Valley was named for an animal now known as the pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, which is endemic to the western states and now more likely to be referred to as "speed goats" by naturalists, as among the fastest land animals on earth. Pronghorn are however highly sensitive to changes in the natural environment, and may have difficulty crossing even railroads, entirely preventing their migration into areas settled by humans and making a sighting now very rare.
English is the dominant language; in some neighborhoods Spanish is spoken.
Although there is a large regional airport in the Antelope Valley, Palmdale Regional Airport (PMD IATA), there is no scheduled commercial air service available.
Charter flights are available at General William J. Fox Field (WJF IATA) three miles northwest of Lancaster.
The nearest regional airport is Bob Hope Airport (BUR IATA) in Burbank, 50 minutes south of Palmdale by freeway, and is served by all major domestic carriers.
There are several other major airports around Southern California within driving distance of the Antelope Valley. Listed driving times to Palmdale are ideal and can vary greatly depending on traffic. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX IATA) (1 hr 15 min) has the most flight options and is relatively the cheapest way to go, but the traffic is usually heavy. Ontario International Airport (ONT IATA) (1 hr 30 min) is usually a good alternative, but doesn't have as many flight options as LAX and occasionally has poor traffic conditions. Bakersfield Meadows Field (BFL IATA) (1 hr 45 min) has a better traffic situation but fewer flight options and is usually more expensive. Two other smaller airports include Long Beach Municipal Airport (LGB IATA) (1 hr 45 min) and John Wayne International (SNA IATA) (1 hr 40 min).
There is the Mojave Air and Space Port (MHV IATA), AKA the Civilian Aerospace Test Center, in the town of Mojave, where
- the Voyager -- the airplane that first flew around the world on one tank of gas, came from,
- the Pregnant Guppy -- the largest airplane in the world at the time -- had the flag of the United States of America Painted on it by local talent,
- a former Mojave marine base put in such a long runway that the French/British Concord was once considering landing in Mojave,
- a "bone-yard" of airplanes is preserved in the arid environment for buzzard-like humans to pick as clean,
- private airplanes and land-sails have been known to enjoy the wide open spaces and long runways, and
- a world renowned space port where private companies can enjoy setting out-of-this-world records.
Direct rail service to the Antelope Valley is provided by Metrolink. The Antelope Valley Line begins at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and runs many times daily. There are two stops in the valley: the Palmdale Transportation Center, which is the area's principal transit hub, and Lancaster, which is the end of the line.
Amtrak also serves the Antelope Valley, but not by train directly. Travelers coming from the north have two options. If you're riding one of the coast trains (Pacific Surfliner or Coast Starlight), you can transfer to Metrolink at Union Station in Los Angeles. If you ride the San Joaquin through the central valley to Bakersfield, you must transfer to the Amtrak Thruway Bus service to reach the Lancaster and Palmdale Metrolink stations. Passengers coming from Chicago on the Southwest Chief can exit at Victorville and use the Thruway Bus service to Lancaster and Palmdale.
Mojave was a "railroad town" with many "railroad houses" just on the west side of the railroad tracks. A railroad round house was used in its switching yard. Mojave's station was still operational in the 1960's and the Bicentennial Train stopped at the Mojave station for a while so that the public could look at the displays that were taken across the continental United States as the country celebrated its bicentennial.
The Antelope Valley is served by one national bus service: Greyhound Bus. The Greyhound Bus station is located at the Palmdale Metrolink transportation hub.
Regional bus service is also available through the Antelope Valley Transit Authority. AVTA buses run each day between the Antelope Valley and downtown Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, and the San Fernando Valley.
Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach is provided between Bakersfield and the Antelope Valley. Coaches through Boron continue on to Barstow and Las Vegas, while coaches through Lancaster and Palmdale continue on to Victorville.
The main freeway into the Antelope Valley from the Los Angeles area is California State Route 14 called the Antelope Valley Freeway. It begins between the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys where it splits from Interstate 5 and passes through the San Gabriel Mountains offering some beautiful views of mountain valleys and spectacular rock formations at Vasquez Rocks.
CA-138 brings drivers to the Antelope Valley from San Bernardino after it splits from Interstate 15. This beautiful drive takes you through Cajon Pass and the Angeles National Forest. This route gives some long views of the entire Antelope Valley as it descends along the north face of the San Gabriel Mountains, passing Phelan and Pinion Hills.
The town of Mojave acts as a gateway to the north end of the Antelope Valley where drivers coming from the east, north and west all meet to access the Antelope Valley freeway. From the north, the Antelope Valley Freeway extends all the way to Inyokern where it joins with US-395. Travellers coming from Reno, Nevada and Yosemite National Park come down this route. Highway 58 from Bakersfield brings travellers from California's San Joaquin Valley through the Tehachapi Mountains and a forest of wind turbines that cover the mountainsides while generating electricity for Southern California. Highway 58 from Barstow brings travellers from Las Vegas, Nevada past the borax mines at Boron and along the northern edge of Edward Air Force Base through long stretches of open Mojave Desert.
Two other scenic routes into the valley come from Interstate 5 at Gorman, using CA-138 (for those coming from Bakersfield who want to drive the scenic Grapevine), and from Victorville along CA-18, also called Palmdale Road, which joins CA-138 coming from San Bernardino.
The street system of the Antelope Valley is a grid oriented to the compass points, although there are some exceptions. Major east-west streets are given English alphabet names while major north-south streets are given number names.
The alphabetic streets begin where Kern and Los Angeles counties meet north of Lancaster. Avenue A runs along the county line. One mile south is Avenue B, then Avenue C, and so on to Avenue T south of Palmdale where the grid system ends because of the San Gabriel Mountains. There are also minor streets using letter-number combinations (Avenue J-4 or Avenue P-8). These streets are spaced at 1/16th mile increments.
The north-south streets have a point of origin called Division Street. Each street divisible by 10 is one mile farther from Division Street, both to the east and west (10th Street is one mile from Division Street, 20th Street is two miles from Division Street). Between these streets are minor streets spaced 1/10th of a mile apart and named incrementally (11th Street, 12th Street, etc.). Location of the street either east or west of Division Street is part of the street name, which means there are often two streets named similarly (10th Street East and 10th Street West, for instance).
Many streets have what might be “normal” names (Milling Street, Fig Avenue) that don’t relate to the major or minor grids. This can be confusing when trying to find addresses in the Valley. (Norberry Street is not near any of the letter N streets, for instance.)
GPS devices can be a big help for anyone not familiar with the street and address layout of the Antelope Valley when searching for a location.
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority provides public transit bus service around the Antelope Valley and to connecting points in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys.
Train service is available between Lancaster and Palmdale as part of the Metrolink service. Metrolink also connects to the Santa Clarita Valley, then continues into Los Angeles. Trains run all day and evening long.
If you experience auto problems and find your cell phone cannot connect or the battery is low, Los Angeles County maintains an emergency call box system along all major freeways, including the Antelope Valley Freeway as part of the statewide call box system. Each call box is a yellow box attached to a pole with a large blue “Call Box” sign at the top. Inside is both a phone and a TTY keyboard which will be answered 24 hours a day.
The San Andreas Fault appears at the southern end of Palmdale. This is called the Palmdale Bulge and is immediately above the San Andreas fault. Strata of rock are visible, warped and twisted in dramatic fashion by the tectonic interaction of the Pacific and North American plates.
The California Aqueduct is a series of aqueducts, reservoirs, power plants and pumping stations that run the length of the state of California, a portion of which passes through the Antelope Valley along the San Gabriel Mountain foothills near Palmdale. There are many vantage points where the waterway can be seen. There are also many miles of bicycleways along the aqueduct.
The Antelope Valley is home to some of the largest installations of wind farms in the world because of its abundant breezes most of the year. One major field of windmills can be seen west of Mojave in the Tehachapi Mountains where windmills of all sizes cover everything from the desert floor to the mountain ridges.
The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve near Lancaster Rd has firkds of poppies.
The Prime Desert Woodland Preserve is a 100-acre preserve near Lancaster with more than 3 miles of trails among pristine Mojave desert flora. Many types of desert inhabitants can often be seen (jackrabbits, roadrunners, lizards).
The Antelope Valley Indian Museum in Lancaster has a collection of objects made by various indigenous peoples of California, the Great Basin, and the Southwest.
The Feline Conservation Center (the Cat House), in Rosamond, is an exotic feline breeding compound. Stroll just feet away from jaguars, tigers, leopards and other exotic cats. Home to over 70 endangered species of feline.
The Willow Springs International Raceway near Rosamond has several courses that make this a favorite location for racing fans of all interests.
Chain restaurants abound; if you love the Olive Garden, Outback, BJ's Brewpub, Chili's, or Applebee's, the Antelope Valley has a lot to offer. Finer dining options are available at Tina's Ristorante in Lancaster for truly top-notch Italian food, Vincent Station south of Palmdale for steaks and seafood, and the clubhouse at the Rancho Vista golf course.
Some neighborhoods, generally on the east side of Palmdale and Lancaster, are known to be high-crime areas and as with any urbanized or partially urbanized area, visitors should be aware of their surroundings and avoid suspicious individuals. Generally, however, the Antelope Valley enjoys lower rates of violent and property crime than the rest of Los Angeles County.
Affordable green fees can be found at several local golf courses, including Desert Aire and Lake Elizabeth. Rancho Vista and the Antelope Valley Country Club are private courses and are somewhat more expensive.
Bird watchers will enjoy the proliferation of red hawks in the area, and there is an abundance of waterfowl in and around the aqueduct. At night, owls prowl the deserts looking for prey. Other local wildlife that can be seen with some frequency are desert tortoises, coyotes, a wide variety of snakes, and the occasional small black bear from the nearby mountains looking for forage.
- 1 Devil's Punchbowl, 28000 Devil's Punchbowl Rd. (Highway 14, exit Avenue S, go east to 47th St. E (Highway 138), turn south; turn south on 96th St. E to Fort Tejon Rd; turn left, drive 4 miles to 131st St. E/Longview Rd, turn right; drive 2.3 miles to Tumbleweed Rd., turn left, drive 0.5 mile to Devil's Punchbowl Rd), ☏ +1 661 944-2743. Park: sunrise to sunset; Visitor Center: M closed; Tu-Su 9AM-5PM. 1,310 acres of nature preserve, hiking trails, and views of the Antelope Valley from the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Free.
- 2 Shambala Preserve, 6867 Soledad Canyon Road, Acton (take Highway 14, exit at Soledad Canyon Rd; turn east, drive 9 miles to preserve entrance), ☏ +1 661 268-0380. Actress Tippi Hendrin (The Birds, I Heart Huckabees) operates a preserve for large and exotic cats. Open on specific dates only—see web site for dates. No one under 18 allowed. $50.