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The wildflower super bloom is over — or at least one Southern California city says so

Soar over this stunning Southern California poppy super bloom

A drone video shows Walker Canyon's rolling hillsides of brilliant orange poppy fields. The spectacle has drawn crowds of tourists to the spot in Lake Elsinore, California.
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A drone video shows Walker Canyon's rolling hillsides of brilliant orange poppy fields. The spectacle has drawn crowds of tourists to the spot in Lake Elsinore, California.

Lake Elsinore — a Southern California city that was ground zero for this year’s “poppy palooza” — has declared an end to the area’s wildflower super bloom.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors began to swarm the Riverside County town in late February and early March after California poppies and other wildflowers began blooming in nearby Walker Canyon.

Lake Elsinore officials tried to close the area to the “Disneyland-size crowds,” but quickly realized they didn’t have enough resources to keep it shut down. Eventually, they closed certain roads, created parking areas and instated a $10 shuttle service for flower tourists.

Now, nearly a month later, the city is withdrawing its additional resources, citing a fading bloom and a decrease in visitor traffic, according to a Monday news release.

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People pose for a picture among wildflowers in bloom in March at Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to see the rain-fed orange patches of poppies this spring. Visitors are now tapering off, and city officials declared an end to the super bloom. Gregory Bull AP

Last weekend, 4,658 visitors took the shuttle to Walker Canyon — down from the 12,062 tourists the shuttle transported during the weekend of March 30 and 31.

City personnel will monitor the wildflower area for illegal activity, but no additional resources will be devoted to Walker Canyon during the weekend or on weekdays, according to the release. Officials expect visitor activity to taper off soon.

“The super bloom has been unlike any event we have ever experienced before,” Mayor Steve Manos said in the release. “The extreme beauty of our hillsides that drew attention from around the world is now diminishing quickly, and our residents sure are eager for things to get back to normal.”

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing, immigration and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She also covers northern San Luis Obispo County city governments and school districts. Lindsey joined The Tribune in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. She’s a native Californian raised in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of two Chicago schools: DePaul University and Northwestern University.


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