Want to see the poppy super bloom in California? Brace yourself for large crowds, long lines

Shane Newell

Poppy fever has returned to Lake Elsinore, California.

As a dense fog blanketed the city, hundreds parked at an outlet mall a few miles south of Walker Canyon and waited for shuttle rides to the poppy fields. 

After tens of thousands descended on the town last weekend and caused major traffic headaches, city officials and law enforcement responded with a plan to require all weekend Walker Canyon visitors to ride a $10 shuttle from the Nichols Road exit.

Hundreds gathered inside a vacant store to wait for the shuttles, which started ferrying super bloom fanatics at 6:30 a.m. The parking lot was already starting to fill up around 8:15 a.m. as drivers searched for empty spaces.

Jacob Vizcarra and Hourig Mardirossian, both from Pasadena, brought a picnic lunch and hot tea for their trip to the poppy fields. They got in line around 7:45 a.m.

"We wanted to see them before they die," Mardirossian said. 

"They're so pretty," she added. "It's temporary. Enjoy them while they're there."

Hundreds waited in line Saturday morning for shuttles to take them to the poppy super bloom in Lake Elsinore.

The duo is planning to spend a half-day looking at the flowers.

Marina del Rey resident Tina Bojorquez also got in line around 7:45 a.m. She said she planned on spending a couple hours seeing the poppies for the first time.

"I think it's going to be amazing," she said. "I really can't wait."

By also closing the Lake Street exit, which is the closest access point to the super bloom, officials are hoping the changes will make things run smoother. 

Traffic conditions in Lake Elsinore at about 11:20 a.m. March 23, 2019.

If you go

Riverside County created a map with traffic conditions and closures of the nearby roads.

Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the poppies can exit on either side of Interstate 15 at Nichols Road. From there, they can park and wait for the shuttles, which are scheduled to run from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Cash, debit and credit cards will be accepted. 

The last shuttle to the poppy fields departs at 5 p.m., according to officials. The final shuttle from the fields will leave around 7 p.m. No pets, except service animals, will be allowed on the shuttles. 

For visitors wanting to avoid the crowds, poppy viewing is possible on weekdays at Lake Street. Parking is available on-site. 

Residents trying to get around the traffic jams to other parts of Lake Elsinore can still exit at Central Avenue and Indian Truck Trail. 

More: Move over, California. Here's where to see Arizona's super bloom of poppies

More: Rare visual spectacle: Super bloom of flowers next to runways at Los Angeles airport

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Want to see the poppy super bloom in California? Brace yourself for large crowds, long lines