Thousands of visitors flock to Lake Elsinore each year to witness the magnificent super bloom.
Those planning to visit the wild poppies of Walker Canyon this year are in for bad news — the area is now off-limits and you could be cited if you try to visit.
The popular spot saw a frenzy of visitors in 2019 as tens of thousands of people flocked to the canyons to snag photos of the golden-hued fields.
Officials say the crowds became theme park-like as visitors trampled flowers, disrupted wildlife and created a nightmare for local residents.
“In an effort to maintain the safety of public land and wildlife, today I am announcing that Walker Canyon will be closed to all visitors,” said Natasha Johnson, Mayor of Lake Elsinore. “The trails on both public and private lands are closed. Parking in and around Walker Canyon is closed. Walker Canyon road access at Lake Street — closed. The public should observe all parking and no parking closure signs.”
Johnson was joined by the California Highway Patrol and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department along with other city and county agencies during a Tuesday press conference.
The closure’s goal is to prevent the chaos that swarmed the area four years ago, officials said.
“You couldn’t park or exit at any of our five exits up and down the I-15 corridor,” said Johnson. “You couldn’t go to the grocery store. Some people could not even go to work.”
Those hoping to spot a glimpse of the super bloom can still do so, but from a distance. Those arriving near the canyon trailhead will be greeted with “No Parking” signs and gates preventing access.
“I’m here to tell you that your warning is right now,” said Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco. “Will have a zero-tolerance policy for people that are here trespassing and parking on sides of roadways.”
Some residents have voiced their approval of the decision, while others disagreed.
“I think it should be open to the public,” said Peter Kiriakos, a Lake Elsinore resident. “This is a disservice to the public.”
If visitors decide to come, they’ll run the risk of getting their vehicles towed and being cited.
“The cost of the citation, that will be up to the court,” said Bianco. “It is a misdemeanor infraction. You’re subject to arrest and booking into jail.”
There are still ways to safely view the bloom including a live stream camera that will be monitoring the poppies.