After 'Unbearable' Weekend, Flower Fields Are Off-Limits

The bloom is off tourism for Walker Canyon, Calif., after crowds trample poppies
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2019 10:10 AM CDT
After 'Unbearable' Weekend, Flower Fields Are Off-Limits
These flowers should be handled with care.   (Getty Images/Try Media)

Walker Canyon in Southern California is filled with blooming poppies—providing a rolling, orange view that extends as far as the eye can see—but as of Sunday, it's no longer filled with visitors. Lake Elsinore tried to accommodate the thousands of "super bloom" tourists by bringing in traffic controllers and shuttle buses, per the Times of San Diego, but things got out of hand. "The situation has escalated beyond our available resources," the City of Lake Elsinore posted on Instagram. "This weekend has been unbearable." Mayor Steve Manos announced a shuttle bus plan in a "poppy apocalypse update" on Thursday, but the buses just got stuck in traffic, like everybody else. On Saturday night, the mayor issued a bulletin-style Facebook post: "Residents have been screaming at the people directing traffic. ... Estimated 50,000 visitors. Twice as many as last weekend. ... It's insane."

Heavy rains this season made this bloom special, per ABC7. But the crowds it attracted have exacted a cost: People have trampled the flowers. Plus, one city employee was struck by a car, the mayor posted, and a visitor was bitten by a rattlesnake. Employees of the city of 66,000 have been working 12 hours a day, seven days a week, the Desert Sun reports. Hikers have been off trails, sliding down the sides of the canyon and kicking rocks free that have fallen toward other hikers. A Facebook post cited by the Times said one officer announced to the crowd, "It's just orange flowers, people." The city finally decided it had a public safety crisis on its hands and sought state help. The "Disneyland-size crowds" were too much, the City of Elsinore noted on Instagram. (Heavy rains led to a similar bloom two years ago.)

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