One visitor was bitten by a rattlesnake and another person was hit by a vehicle as "Disneyland-size crowds" seek out the perfect Instagram photo

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 18, 2019 06:14 PM
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Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Tourists have been flocking to Lake Elsinore in Southern California to see a stunning display of golden poppies that are in bloom along its hills, but the influx of people has gridlocked the area and caused a massive headache for the short-handed city.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos announced in a Facebook post on Saturday that amid the chaos and traffic jams that have popped up along with the poppies, there have been at least two injuries in the area — one visitor was bitten by a rattlesnake, while a city employee was injured by a hit and run driver. As more people make the trip to Lake Elsinore to see the flowers, which they are using as a backdrop for their Instagram pictures, the city’s residents are becoming increasingly frustrated.

“Residents have been screaming at the people directing traffic,” Manos wrote. “Met people from Sacramento. Estimated 50,000 visitors. Twice as many as last weekend. People lined up since 5:30 am. It’s insane.”

The city pulled out every resource they could in order to keep crowds under control over the weekend.

“The city has expended all available resources to address the #SuperBloom,” Lake Elsinore officials wrote on their Instagram account. “We have brought in all available staff, as many outside traffic controllers that we could, more shuttles, and our small city cannot sustain crowds of this magnitude — our city is not made for Disneyland-size crowds.”

People visit the ‘super bloom’ of wild poppies
| Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
People visit the ‘super bloom’ of wild poppies
| Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

“We have reached out to our neighboring and county agencies for help… We are running out of options,” the post continued. “People are creating chaos out there and we have already had an injury. This is a public safety crisis so we ask your support.”

On Sunday, after an “unbearable” weekend, the city announced they were discontinuing shuttle services to the area and shutting down ramps to the area.

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“The situation has escalated beyond our available resources,” officials wrote on Facebook. “No additional shuttles or visitors will be allowed into Walker Canyon. This weekend has been unbearable Lake Elsinore… we have to get traffic moving.”

The city said they would reevaluate the situation next week.

“Thank you for your understanding. We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community,” they wrote.

Wildflowers bloom among the charred remains of chaparral brush
| Credit: David McNew/Getty Images

The announcement of the closure received mixed reactions from people on social media, as some called it “embarrassing” that the city would close down their most popular attraction and lose out on revenue, while others thanked the city for listening to the complaints of residents.

One person commented that they were surprised thousands of people would even wait in traffic for hours on end just to see a field of flowers.

“I don’t understand what the big deal is,” wrote Facebook user Dennell Winston. “They are flowers…. go to Lowe’s, plant some in your backyard, pull up a chair and look at them all day long if you desire.”

With the closure, the fields will finally catch a break from the many visitors who have also crushed the poppies while taking photographs for social media.