‘Super bloom’ shutdown: Lake Elsinore shuts access after crowds descend on poppy fields

Visitors take pictures in the middle of a poppy field on a slope of Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore. The heavy rains in California have boosted the "super bloom" of wild desert flowers.
(Etienne Laurent / EPA/Shutterstock)

Calling the stampede a “poppy nightmare,” Lake Elsinore officials announced Sunday they had shut access to the popular poppy fields in Walker Canyon, where crowds had descended in recent weeks to see the super bloom of wildflowers.

“The situation has escalated beyond [our] available resources,” Lake Elsinore said on its City Hall Facebook page. “No additional shuttles or visitors will be allowed into Walker Canyon. This weekend has been unbearable [for] Lake Elsinore.”

For the last few weeks, droves of flower fiends have flocked to the poppy fields, some of them ignoring instructions that they stay on the designated path.


Desperate for social media attention, some visitors have trampled through the orange poppy fields, despite official signs warning against doing so. Others have plucked their own poppies as souvenirs.

Southern California has received record-setting rainfall this winter, creating conditions favorable to a super bloom, when wildflowers blanket hillsides in epic proportions.

But that can also mean unusually high traffic, one of the reasons the Walker Canyon poppy fields are closed.

“We will evaluate all options next week, including ways to shut this down,” Lake Elsinore said on its Facebook page. “Thank you for your understanding. We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community.”

Times staff writer Alejandra Reyes-Velarde contributed to this report.