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 approximately 2,200 square miles.
The first peoples of the Antelope Valley include the Kawaiisu, Serrano, and Tataviam. Europeans first entered in the 1770s, during the colonization of North America. Father Francisco Garces, 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.
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.
In recent decades the valley has become a bedroom community to the Greater Los Angeles area. 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 Antelope Valley is home to over 475,000 people.
The Palmdale School District is the area’s largest school district, with an enrollment of over 28,000 in 29 schools. The district covers the central portion of the city.
The Lancaster School District is the area’s third largest school district after Palmdale and the A.V. High School District. This school district covers most of central and part of eastern Lancaster with 15,000 students in 19 schools.
The Westside Union School District covers western Palmdale and Lancaster and their immediate suburbs including Quartz Hill, Del Sur, Leona Valley, and Antelope Acres. It has over 8,250 students in 11 schools.
The Eastside Union School District covers eastern Lancaster with 3,500 students in 4 schools.
The Keppel Union School District covers eastern Palmdale and its immediate suburbs, including the eastern Antelope Valley communities of Lake Los Angeles, Pearblossom, Littlerock, Sun Village, Llano, and Valyermo. It has 6 schools with over 3,000 students.
The Southern Kern Unified School District provides all public school education in Rosamond and nearby Willow Springs.
The Muroc Joint Unified School District provides all public school education for Edwards Air Force Base, and the northern Antelope Valley communities of North Edwards, and Boron.
The Mojave Unified School District provides all public school education in the northern Antelope Valley communities of Mojave and California City.
The Antelope Valley Union High School District is the primary public school district covering the vast majority of high school education in the metropolitan Palmdale and Lancaster area. The district has 25,000 students in 8 regular high schools in Palmdale and Lancaster, a continuation school in each city, a trade school in Palmdale, and a specialized early college education school on the Lancaster Antelope Valley College campus
Getting Around: There are many ways to explore the Antelope Valley. An intricate web of State Routes and thoroughfares criss-cross throughout the area, such as State Routes 14, 18, 138, 58 and US Route 395. On the ridgeline of the San Gabriel Mountains, the Angeles Crest Highway (State Route 2) snakes 60 miles through the Angeles National Forest to La Cañada Flintridge and the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan region. The Metrolink passenger rail service and local city bus system also service the area.
Best restaurants: There is no shortage of great dining in the Antelope Valley.
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