Lake Elsinore officials prepare for possible 'super bloom surge' of visitors

City News Service
Saturday, March 9, 2024
Elsinore officials prep for possible 'super bloom surge' of visitors
Lake Elsinore officials are implementing measures in anticipation of another "super bloom," following the winter rains, that may attract large numbers of visitors.

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (CNS) -- Officials from Lake Elsinore are implementing measures ahead of time in anticipation of another "super bloom," following the winter rains, that may attract large numbers of visitors to the hills surrounding the 15 Freeway.

"The city, in collaboration with ... public safety officials, is taking proactive steps to ensure a coordinated response," according to a municipal statement released Thursday night. "While the 2024 rainy season has commenced later than usual, officials anticipate the poppy bloom may not match the grandeur of 2019."

Last March, in an unprecedented move, the city effectively closed access to Walker Canyon due to the bloom taking shape after the end-of-winter storms.

According to officials, to prepare for a potential influx of sight- seers this month and in April, "enhanced control measures (have been) implemented to mitigate congestion."

There will be "strict restrictions" on parking to view any poppy blooms in the canyon, and shuttle service operators have already been retained for weekend transportation to and from parking lots into the canyon, if necessary.

The Walker Canyon Trail parking entrance has been closed, so like last year, motorists will not be able to drive into the scenic grounds. However, there was no indication that Riverside County sheriff's deputies or California Highway Patrol officers will be trying to deter people from hiking into the public space.

There is a live feed from the canyon, available via the city's portal at

Poppies are in full bloom, and visitors are flocking to a catch a glimpse and take pictures of the colorful fields at a poppy reserve in the Antelope Valley.

Additional updates on preparations and precautionary measures will be published via the city's social media pages.

The 2019 "super bloom" occurred in the wake of major winter rainfall, some of it damaging.

Officials were caught off-guard by the surge of visitors to the city, Decker Canyon, Horsethief Canyon and the Alberhill community. During the weekend before the official start of spring, tens of thousands of people converged on the area, jamming the 15 Freeway, turning shoulder space into temporary parking, as well as clogging Highway 74 and lining residential streets, virtually trapping locals, including county Supervisor Kevin Jeffries and then-state Sen. Melissa Melendez, in their homes.

Law enforcement initially attempted to close roadway access to Walker Canyon, but that didn't stop people from hiking into the hills.

Within a week, officials designed a transportation and traffic control plan, providing shuttle bus access to the poppy fields, with designated parking areas.

The bloom began to fade by early April 2019 and was all but gone later that month as conditions turned hot and dry. Poppies didn't carpet hillsides in 2020, 2021 and 2022 due to the drought.