Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park is a state park in the western Antelope Valley of Southern California, United States, located between Lancaster and Los Angeles. The park preserves remnant stands of Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) and California juniper trees (Juniperus californica), as well as an oasis that was historically used by travelers on the Mojave Road. It is part of the Colorado Desert ecosystem.
The park’s 2,400 acres (9.7km2; 3.6sqmi) include two designated wilderness areas with over 300 miles (480km) of trails open to hiking, mountain biking, horses, and all-terrain vehicles.
Today, visitors can walk through the park and see thriving stands of Joshua trees, California poppies, Fremont cottonwood, coast live oak, and California bay laurel. The park has campgrounds, equestrian staging areas, picnic sites, and nature trails. The park hosts environmental education programs for school groups, families, adults, children, and other organizations.
There is even a special exhibit about the life and times of the park’s founder, Senator Arthur B. Ripley, whose memory is still revered today. Every Labor Day weekend, thousands of people converge on the park to enjoy free music, food, and dancing. The event, known as the World Music & Dance Festival, features popular bands and performers from around the world. The festival started out small, held annually in the nearby town of Palmdale, but now attracts nearly 100,000 attendees each year.
A portion of this land was previously owned by U.S. Senator Arthur B. Ripley, for whom one of the main entrances to the park is named. He allowed his family to be the caretakers of the property during his lifetime, allowing them to make a living off the land through farming and ranching. After he died in 1922, his wife Edith sold the property back to the National Park Service, who then turned it into a national monument.
When that happened, the area became inaccessible to most people, including those in need of water and other resources. By the 1960s, the once productive farmland lay fallow and wild plants were overtaking the landscape. In response, local citizens organized support for the “Save Our Seeds” campaign, which led to the establishment of the Palm Springs Desert Seed Bank in 1978.
This seed bank provides high quality seeds and plant material to public and private institutions around the world. With the help of these efforts, along with funding provided from the late 1980s through 2006 by the California state government, more than 30 species have been reintroduced to the park, including several endangered ones.
There are also opportunities for:
- horseback riding
- mountain biking
- all-terrain vehicle driving
Visitors can go:
- rock climbing
- play disc golf
Wildflower displays change throughout the year such as:
- scarlet bouvardia
- monkey flower
- desert marigold
- globe mallow
- indigo bush
Birds of prey such as the northern pygmy owls hunt here, as do:
Mammals observed at the park include:
- mule deer
- kit foxes
- striped skunks
Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles and amphibians include:
- pond turtles
- bull snakes
- Arboreal salamanders
- Eastern tiger salamanders
- Pacific tree frogs
- Red diamond rattlesnakes
Some of these animals may seem threatening to hikers, especially when they’re active, but wildlife encounters are extremely rare.