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Antelope Valley

Coordinates: 34°48′N 118°12′W / 34.8°N 118.2°W / 34.8; -118.2
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Antelope Valley
A truck passes eastbound along Highway 58 through the Antelope Valley
Antelope Valley is located in California
Antelope Valley
Antelope Valley
Location in California
Area2,200 square miles (5,698 km2)
LocationCalifornia, United States
Population centersPalmdale and Lancaster
Borders onVictor Valley, Great Basin (east); San Gabriel Mountains (south); Tehachapis (northwest); Sierra Pelona Mountains (west)
Coordinates34°48′N 118°12′W / 34.8°N 118.2°W / 34.8; -118.2
Traversed byState Route 14, State Route 58, State Route 138

The Antelope Valley is located in northern Los Angeles County, California, United States, and the southeast portion of California's Kern County, and constitutes the western tip of the Mojave Desert.[1] It is situated between the Tehachapi, Sierra Pelona, and the San Gabriel Mountains.[2] The valley was named for the pronghorns that roamed there until they were all eliminated in the 1880s, mostly by hunting, or resettled in other areas.[2][3] The principal cities in the Antelope Valley are Palmdale and Lancaster.



The Antelope Valley comprises the western tip of the Mojave Desert, opening up to the Victor Valley and the Great Basin to the east. Lying north of the San Gabriel Mountains, southeast of the Tehachapis, and east of the Sierra Pelona Mountains, this desert ecosystem spans around 2,200 sq mi (5,698 km2). The valley is bounded by the Garlock and San Andreas fault systems. Precipitation in the surrounding mountain ranges contributes to groundwater recharge.

Flora and fauna

Joshua trees in snow, near Lancaster, California

The Antelope Valley is home to a wide range of plants and animals. This includes hundreds of plants such as the California juniper, Joshua tree, California scrub oak, creosote, and wildflowers, notably the California poppy. Winter brings much-needed rain, which slowly penetrates the area's dry ground, bringing up native grasses and wildflowers. Poppy season depends completely on the precipitation, but a good bloom can be killed off by the unusual weather in the late winter and early spring.

The Antelope Valley gets its name from its history of pronghorn grazing in large numbers. In 1882-85, the valley lost 30,000 head of antelope, almost half of the species for which it was named.[3] Unusually heavy snows in both the mountains and the valley floor drove the antelope toward their normal feeding grounds in the eastern part of the valley. Since they would not cross the railroad tracks, many of them starved to death. The remainder of these pronghorns were hunted for their hides by settlers. Once abundant, they either died off or migrated into the Central Valley. A drought in the early 1900s caused a scarcity in bunch grass, their main food source. Now, the sighting of a pronghorn is rare, although a small number remain in the western portion of the valley.

Common game species in the Antelope Valley include mule deer and mountain quail. Other common species in the Antelope Valley include the golden-mantled ground squirrel, Beechey ground squirrel, red-tailed hawk, Cooper's hawk, Stellar's jay, leopard frog, and rattlesnake.[4]

Water issues


Human water use in the Antelope Valley depends mainly on pumping of groundwater from the valley's aquifers and on importing additional water from the California Aqueduct. Long-term groundwater pumping has lowered the water table, thereby increasing pumping lifts, reducing well efficiency, and causing land subsidence.[5]

While aqueducts supply additional water that meets increasing human demand for agricultural, industrial, and domestic uses, diversion of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in northern California has caused and causes adverse environmental and social effects in the delta:

"Over decades, [the] competing uses for water supply and habitat have jeopardized the Delta's ability to meet either need. All stakeholders agree the estuary is in trouble and requires long-term solutions to ensure reliable, quality water supplies and a healthy ecosystem."[6]

The Antelope Valley's population growth and development place considerable stress on the local and regional water systems. According to David Leighton of the United States Geological Survey:

"A deliberate management effort will be required to meet future water demand in the Antelope Valley without incurring significant economic and environmental costs associated with overuse of the ground-water resource."[7]

Human history

A Kawaiisu family

The first peoples of the Antelope Valley include the Kawaiisu,[8] [unreliable source?] Kitanemuk, Serrano, and Tataviam. Europeans first entered in the 1770s, during the colonization of North America. Father Francisco Garcés, a Spanish Franciscan friar, is believed to have traveled the west end of the valley in 1776. The Spanish established El Camino Viejo through the western part of the valley between Los Angeles and the missions of the San Francisco Bay in the 1780s. By 1808, the Spanish had moved the native people out of the valley and into missions.[9]

Jedediah Smith came through in 1827, and John C. Fremont made a scientific observation of the valley in 1844. After Fremont's visit the 49ers crossed the valley via the Old Tejon Pass into the San Joaquin Valley on their way to the gold fields. Later, a better wagon road, the Stockton – Los Angeles Road route to Tejon Pass, followed in 1854. Stagecoach lines across the southern foothills came through the valley along this wagon road, and were the preferred method for travelers before the coming of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876. The rail service linking the valley to the Central Valley and Los Angeles started its first large influx of white settlers, and farms and towns soon sprouted on the valley floor. The aircraft (now called aerospace) industry took hold in the valley at Plant 42 in 1952. Edwards AFB, then called Muroc Army Air Field, was established in 1933.

The area was once under Mexican rule and was named after the large herds of antelope.[10]



In recent decades, the valley has become a bedroom community to the Greater Los Angeles area.[11] Major housing-tract development and population growth took off beginning in 1983, which has increased the population of Palmdale around 12 times its former size as of 2006. Neighboring Lancaster has increased its population since the early 1980s to around three times its former level. Major retail has followed the population influx, centered on Palmdale's Antelope Valley Mall. The Lancaster—Palmdale urbanized area is home to 372,287 people.[12]

Some long-term residents living far out in the desert have been cited by Los Angeles County's nuisance abatement teams for code violations, forcing residents to either make improvements or move. One of the properties is a church building that was used as a filming location for Kill Bill. The code enforcers have arrived on some of their visits in SWAT-team formats.[13]

Hispanics and Whites make up the majority of the population.[14]

Spanish and Tagalog are the most common foreign languages spoken in the Antelope Valley.[15]

According to Mapping L.A., German and English were the most common ancestries and Mexico and the Philippines were the most common foreign places of birth in 2000 in Northwest Antelope Valley. Mexico and El Salvador were the most common foreign places of birth in the northwest.[16] German and English were the most common ancestries in the northeast.[17] German and Irish were the most common ancestries in Southeast Antelope Valley. Mexico and Colombia were the common foreign places of birth in the southeast.[18]

Military base

Discovery (STS-128) touches down at Edwards Air Force Base, 2009

Edwards Air Force Base lies east of Rosamond, 37 miles (60 km) northeast of Palmdale. Edwards AFB's dry lakebeds are the lowest geographic elevation in the valley. Significant numbers of U.S. military test flights are performed there, and it has been the site of many important aeronautical accomplishments, including the first flight to break the sound barrier, accomplished by Chuck Yeager.[19]

NASA Space Shuttles originally landed at Edwards because the lake beds offer a vast landing area. Although NASA later built a landing strip at Kennedy Space Center, Edwards was retained as the backup in case of bad weather at Cape Canaveral.[20]

NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center is a tenant organization at Edwards AFB. The center is best known for the X-15 experimental rocket ship program. It has been the home of NASA's high-performance aircraft research since it was founded for the X-1 program. The Space Shuttle orbiter was serviced there when it landed at Edwards.[21]




SpaceShipOne (Flight 15P) landing at Mojave Air and Space Port (June 21, 2004)

U. S. Air Force Plant 42 in northeast Palmdale is home to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and BAE Systems, among other aerospace-related companies. Notable projects assembled and/or designed there include the Space Shuttle orbiters, B-1 Lancer bombers, B-2 Spirit bombers, F-117 Nighthawk fighters, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, and Lockheed L-1011 Tristar passenger jets.

This region also houses the newly dedicated Mojave Air and Space Port. The spaceport is famous as the base of operations for Scaled Composites, the company that designed SpaceShipOne and won the X-Prize.

Much of the work done at these facilities is performed in coordination with Edwards Air Force Base and the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (see above), from the creation and testing of proof-of-concept X-planes, to Space Shuttle operations, to the manufacturing and integration and testing of new military aviation equipment.

With the size of the industry there, Antelope Valley has been nicknamed the Aerospace Valley.[22]



The valley's first main industry as a part of the United States was agriculture. Historically known in the region for its extensive alfalfa fields and fruit crops, farmers now are growing a wider variety of crops, such as carrots, onions, lettuce, and potatoes. As housing tracts continue to build in the middle of the valley, the farm operations are found farther to the west and east sides than in earlier decades.[23]

Electricity generation

The Alta Wind Energy Center in northern Antelope Valley

The northern reaches of Antelope Valley are part of the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area, the largest wind resource area in California. The valley also has numerous solar farms, some of which are among the largest in the United States.


  • U.S. Pole Company Inc.
  • Senior Systems Technology
  • Delta Scientific
  • Lance Camper Manufacturing Corporation
  • Harvest Farms Inc.
  • BYD Company



The world's largest open-pit borax mine is located near Boron.



Colleges and universities

  • The Antelope Valley Community College District is the local public, regionally accredited, college system that covers the area with a primary service area of 1,945 sq mi (5,040 km2) covering portions of Los Angeles and Kern Counties. Instruction is offered at multiple sites, including Palmdale and Lancaster, as well as through online and instructional television courses. It has two campuses. The main one, Antelope Valley College, is a comprehensive community college located in Lancaster. It offers associate in arts and associate in science (two-year) degrees in 67 fields, as well as certificate programs in 56 vocational areas. It also hosts a satellite location of California State University, Bakersfield-Antelope Valley, where students can obtain bachelor's and master's degrees.
  • California State University Bakersfield has a satellite campus in Lancaster offering eight bachelor's degrees, five master's degrees, and the multiple, single, and special-education teaching credentials.
  • University of Phoenix has a satellite campus in Lancaster.
  • University of La Verne has a satellite campus in Palmdale.
  • DeVry University and its Keller Graduate School of Management have a satellite campus in Palmdale.
  • Chapman University has a satellite campus in Palmdale.
  • The AERO Institute at the Palmdale Institute of Technology is a facility in Palmdale at the Civic Center. It is operated by NASA and the City of Palmdale, and distance learning through a number of universities is available, including Purdue, the University of Southern California, the University of San Diego, Pepperdine University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Caltech, and Cal Poly Pomona. This specialized school offers graduate and undergraduate education in aerospace science, engineering, and technical skills.
  • West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster is an accredited Independent Fundamental Baptist Bible college offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in pastoral studies, evangelism, missions, church ministries, music, Christian education, youth ministry, and secretarial studies. West Coast opened in 1995, and now has about 1,000 students.
  • The Lancaster University Center in Lancaster provides local students education in engineering and technology from California State University, Long Beach. The $3.5 million reconstruction of Challenger Hall, located at the old Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, gave the new campus 13 classrooms, two of which are high-tech distance-learning rooms and two of which are lab classrooms, as well as office space. The school was created through partnerships with California State University, Bakersfield, California State University, Fresno, and local aerospace companies. They offer Bachelor of Science degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering.
  • University of Antelope Valley (now closed), formerly known as Antelope Valley Medical College, was a private, for-profit, incorporated company.[24] The corporation was owned and operated by Lancaster city councilwoman, Sandra Johnson.[25] The facility was featured on a local news report regarding payouts to local businesses that would hire or place graduated students for $2,000.[26] UAV, INC., must place at least 65 percent of its graduates in jobs, or lose accreditation. [27]

High schools


Also, several private and home-school high schools arein the area, most notably:

  • Abraham Lincoln High School - Rosamond
  • Paraclete High School
  • Bethel Christian High School
  • Antelope Valley Christian School - Lancaster
  • Desert Christian High School
  • Empowered Learning Academy - Palmdale
  • Palmdale Academy Charter School
  • Pearblossom High School
  • Desert Sands Charter Schools - Lancaster
  • Desert Sands Charter Schools - Palmdale
  • Options for Youth Charter Schools - Lancaster
  • Options for Youth Charter Schools - Palmdale
  • The Palmdale Aerospace Academy

School districts




The Antelope Valley Symphony Orchestra is a professional ensemble that performs four concerts each year at the Lancaster Performing Arts Center. It is an auxiliary of Antelope Valley College, and performs regularly with the Antelope Valley College Civic Orchestra.


Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park has been featured in films such as The Magnificent Seven Ride! (1972) and The Stone Killer (1973). Mackenna's Gold (1964) was also partly filmed in Antelope Valley.[28] The video to the R.E.M. song "Man on the Moon" was shot in Antelope Valley in October 1992.[29]


Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, March 2008



Major hospitals include:

The Antelope Valley was formerly served by a county hospital, High Desert Hospital, which was converted into an urgent care clinic in 2003 due to the county's budget problems. As a result, indigent patients with serious but non-life-threatening medical conditions must seek treatment at Olive View – UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar, which is over 50 miles (80 km) away.[30]



Major highways and roads



On the ridgeline of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) snakes 60 miles (100 km) through the Angeles National Forest to La Cañada Flintridge and the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan region.






  • Palmdale Regional Airport, co-sited with USAF Plant 42 is by far the largest and busiest airport in the valley and is owned by the City of Palmdale via Palmdale Airport Authority (it was previously owned by Los Angeles World Airports which owns and operates LAX up until 2013). Although mostly military flights occur at this airport, it also has an unused commercial terminal.
  • General William J. Fox Airfield in Lancaster is the valley's busiest general aviation airport. It is the fourth largest airport in the valley. Charter air service and helicopter rides are available. This airport also has the valley's only aviation school.
  • Inyokern Airport in Inyokern, near Ridgecrest, is a large general aviation airport with limited commercial airline service to Los Angeles International Airport, serving the northern Antelope Valley and Indian Wells Valley communities. Charter service is also available. It is the area's third largest airport.
  • Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave is a large civil aviation center and the second largest airport in the valley. Voyager and SpaceShipOne were developed and flown from its location.
  • Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi is a gliderport, privately owned but open to the public, which offers glider training for civilian and military pilots
  • Tehachapi Municipal Airport in Tehachapi is a small general aviation airport.
  • Agua Dulce Airpark in Agua Dulce is a medium-sized general aviation airport.
  • Rosamond Skypark Airport in Rosamond is a small general aviation airport, privately owned and operated.
  • California City Municipal Airport in California City is a small general aviation airport.
  • Crystalaire Airport in Llano is a small airstrip principally dedicated to glider flights.

Notable people

Chuck Yeager with Glamorous Glennis at Muroc, circa 1947

Some people of note have spent time in the valley, including:

Cities and communities


Cities over 100,000 population

  • Lancaster (population as of 2018, 159,053) - incorporated in 1977
  • Palmdale (population as of 2018, 156,667) - incorporated in 1962

Cities less than 100,000 population


Unincorporated towns and districts


Over 10,000 population

Under 10,000 population

See also



  1. ^ "Antelope Valley". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior.
  2. ^ a b Dale Pitt (2000). "Antelope Valley". Los Angeles A to Z: an encyclopedia of the city and county. University of California Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-520-20530-7.
  3. ^ a b William Bright; Erwin Gustav Gudde (November 30, 1998). 1500 California place names: their origin and meaning. University of California Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-520-21271-8. Retrieved January 20, 2012.
  4. ^ "Antelope Valley Wildlife Area". wildlife.ca.gov. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  5. ^ Ikehara, Marti E. and Phillips, Steven P. (1994) Determination of Land Subsidence Related to Ground-Water Level Declines Using Global Positioning System and Leveling Surveys in Antelope Valley, Los Angeles and Kern Counties, California, 1992 Archived 2014-04-21 at the Wayback Machine, Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4184, United States Geological Survey
  6. ^ "State Water Project - Delta". July 7, 2007. Archived from the original on July 7, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  7. ^ "Antelope Valley Ground-water study". September 23, 2006. Archived from the original on September 23, 2006. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  8. ^ "Kawaiisu Tribe of Tejon, Southern California Native American Art and History". May 5, 2008. Archived from the original on May 5, 2008.
  9. ^ "Antelope Valley Frequently Asked Questions: 16. What Indians lived here?", County of Los Angeles Public Library: Lancaster Library, archived from the original on November 7, 2017, retrieved February 14, 2007
  10. ^ "Guide to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve Photographic Collection".
  11. ^ Peevers, Andrea Schulte Lonely Planet, California, 3rd Ed. ISBN 9781864503319, p.476
  12. ^ "Census profile: Lancaster--Palmdale, CA Urbanized Area".
  13. ^ Melnicoff, Mars (September 16, 2011). "L A County's Private Property War". A Weekly News. Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2011.
  14. ^ "2020 CENSUS Antelope Valley" (PDF). Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  15. ^ Executive summary lacounty.gov
  16. ^ "Northwest Antelope Valley".
  17. ^ "Northeast Antelope Valley".
  18. ^ "Southeast Antelope Valley".
  19. ^ "Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) is home to the 412th Test Wing and the United States Air Force Test Pilot School" (PDF). repi.mil. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  20. ^ "April 14, 1981, Landing of First Space Shuttle Mission". NASA. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  21. ^ "Armstrong Flight Research Center - NASA". Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  22. ^ Borge, Alyssa (March 2, 2021). "America's Aerospace Valley". Museum of Art & History. Lancaster Museum of Art and History.
  23. ^ Gerber, Judith; Surls, Rachel (March 1, 2019). "Los Angeles County's Forgotten Farming History". PBS SoCal. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
  24. ^ Master's degree Academic Catalog. Lancaster, California: University of Antelope Valley (2011–2012). p. 5. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014 – via uav.edu.
  25. ^ votesandrajohnson.com – Just another WordPress site About Sandra. (2012). Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  26. ^ Stallworth, Leo (September 9, 2011). "University of Antelope Valley pays employers for jobs". KABC-TV/DT. Retrieved March 12, 2024.
  27. ^ Stallworth, Leo. "Antelope university pays employers for jobs". ABC7.com. ABC 7 Los Angeles. Archived from the original on March 30, 2018. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  28. ^ Maddrey, Joseph (2016). The Quick, the Dead and the Revived: The Many Lives of the Western Film. McFarland. Page 173. ISBN 9781476625492.
  29. ^ "R.E.M.'s official Twitter account". Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  30. ^ "Antelope Valley Hospital". locator.lacounty.gov. Retrieved February 21, 2024.
  31. ^ "Guide to the Ezra M. Hamilton Collection, 1833-1914". Online Archive of California. Archived from the original on December 12, 2017. Retrieved March 29, 2018.