After looking at one Facebook post about a rare bloom of wildflowers in Lake Elsinore, we had to go see it! We had a very wet winter in Southern California that created this scenery that was so stunning it stopped traffic.
We started our day early, but not early enough to avoid the crowds that already filled the parking lot at the trailhead. According to the officer directing traffic, the lot was full before 7:00 am.
Roads backed up for miles. To help cope with the surge of traffic, the city of Lake Elsinore brought in all available staff, asked county agencies for help, reached out to the California Highway Patrol. On Facebook, the city pled with visitors to stay away: “Our City is not made for Disneyland size crowds.”
So we had to drive to the outlet mall and get in line to take a shuttle bus that would take us there by a road that had been closed to the normal public. The line to the shuttle was about 45 min long.
Hillsides in places like Lake Elsinore, about an hour southeast of Los Angeles, have been inundated with tourists eager to see the beautiful golden poppy fields. Other places that are blooming are Anza Borrego and Lancaster.
The trail is about 4 miles roundtrip and mostly flat. The crowds start to dilute after the first mile though, so if you go, you should keep going as far as you can for some nice photo opportunity without humans.
Large displays typically last two to six weeks, so you need to make plans quickly when word comes of a good one.
Most of the flowers seen here are the California Poppies. The state flower of California is native to the Pacific slope of North America from Western Oregon to Baja California.
Seeds of this plant were introduced into English gardens in the nineteenth century. Seed catalogs now offer many different colors. California poppies have been planted in most of the United States and have become established along roadsides, in empty lots, and other disturbed places. In California, it is hard to tell any more which poppies are native wildflowers and which are garden escapes.
In hot summer areas, the poppies will bloom in spring and early summer, and then the tops will die back and the plants become dormant during the heat of the summer. The poppy survives in the form of a fleshy taproot.
There were flocks of Instagram influencers and wannabees influencers just stepping on the poppies for a great photo.
But does not mean we cannot have a nice photo taken of us. Life pro tip: Always ask someone with a DLSR to take a photo of you, bonus points if they are Japanese as they seem to be great photographers.
We also happened to be in time for the Painted Lady Butterflies migration, and they were resting in these fields!
Well, there is not much more to say about poppies so here are some more photos:
If you can, you should visit this amazing sight of nature. But respect the city official orders, follow the rules, don’t step on the poppies, and get there early.
Bonus Photo of the Day:
Most Riverside residents are hating the tourists, but others just make the best of the situation. There were a few ice cream trucks at the bottom of the hike ready to sell a nice cold ice cream!