By Andrea Romano
March 19, 2019

Who knew flowers could cause so much trouble?

City officials in Lake Elsinore, California have been forced to shut down Walker Canyon after last weekend, according to USA Today. The reason isn’t because of fires, floods, falling rocks or any other dangerous natural disasters in the area.

It’s because of poppies.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Or rather, it’s because of the insatiable popularity of the poppies. Last weekend, thousands of visitors flocked to see the “super bloom” in Lake Elsinore, a special time of year when all the flowers off of Interstate 15 bloom at the same time in a stunning display of color.

Gina Ferazzi/Getty Images

Unfortunately, travelers in search of the colorful flowers created a public safety crisis, The Washington Post reported.

Officials announced that “Disneyland sized crowds” strained resources on the small city of only 66,000.

“This weekend has been unbearable...We will evaluate all options next week including ways to shut this down...We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community,” the city said in a statement on Sunday on social media.

According to USA Today, both flower-loving tourists and people desperately searching for the perfect Instagram post have contributed to the frenzy. At least one injury was reported on Saturday, as the flowers grow on steep sides of the canyon that are not developed for pedestrians.

USA Today reported sightings of people trying to take photos by climbing or hiking to dangerous spots, sometimes involving their pets and children as well.

The Instagram culture of taking photos from high peaks or waterfalls, with wild animals, or even hanging out of moving trains, is often a subject of concern since it allegedly promotes doing dangerous stunts just to get a good photo.

City officials in Lake Elsinore expected crowds for this year’s bloom, but nothing quite as intense as what they got, according to The Washington Post.

“The City has expended all available resources to address the #SuperBloom,” the city said in post on Saturday. “Our small City can not sustain crowds of this magnitude...We are running out of options.”

“Our employees that have been working 7 days straight and 12 hour days are being met with the worst kinds of behavior,” the city wrote in another post on Sunday.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos wrote on Facebook, “We're short-handed. One of our employees was hit and run by a driver. A rattlesnake bit a visitor. Residents have been screaming at the people directing traffic.”

The poppies are expected to stay in bloom next weekend, helped by forecasts of rain. However, with the canyon shut down and the gridlock as bad as it is, it might be a good idea to skip the super bloom this year.

There are, however, plenty of other places to see masses of blooming flowers. Texas is having its best bluebonnet bloom in the last 10 years, and the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C. is just around the corner.

Advertisement