Selfie Chaos Forces California Canyon To Close Over Poppy Blooms

If you’ll hearken back to a UK Guardian article about selfie madness in national parks, about how people taking selfies are ruining the parks and ruining the experience for others. And, no matter how far left the UK Guardian is, they are exactly correct. Too many are going to beautiful places not to enjoy them, but simply to get a selfie saying they were there. It included the quotes “People don’t come here for solitude. They are looking for the iconic photo” and “Most visitors just don’t know how to behave in a wild place.” Again, it is well worth reading the entire very long article. And now we have

#Superbloom or #poppynightmare? Selfie chaos forces canyon closure

This weekend thousands of tourists frolicked through fields of poppies in southern California, posting photos tagged #superbloom. But for the town of Lake Elsinore, the influx of visitors quickly became a #poppynightmare.

Nestled in the hills of western Riverside county, Lake Elsinore ground to a halt when at least 50,000 people flocked to the area, trampling flowers and creating hours-long traffic snarls on Interstate 15 and city streets around the trailhead. Things got so bad that the town was forced on Sunday to bar access to Walker Canyon, one of the most popular sites for poppy seekers.

“This weekend has been unbearable in Lake Elsinore,” the city wrote on its Facebook and Instagram pages, adding the hashtag #poppynightmare. “We know it has been miserable and has caused unnecessary hardships for our entire community.”

Social media is being partly blamed for the super bloom bonanza, with thousands of photos pouring on to Instagram over the weekend. Some of the most popular posts soon drew critical comments: “Trampling the flowers for a photo? Now they shut it down,” wrote one user. “Not worth it for a pic.”

Meanwhile Lake Elsinore’s mayor, Steve Manos, has been on a social media blitz of his own, posting regular Facebook video updates on what he dubbed “poppy-palooza”. They show bumper-to-bumper traffic and cars illegally parked on the highway, as well as offering advice for how visitors can avoid the crush.

It looked gorgeous

Wow, right? And

And throughout Twitter there are people post their photos of themselves, and surely on Instagram and Facebook. Did they even enjoy it?

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5 Responses to “Selfie Chaos Forces California Canyon To Close Over Poppy Blooms”

  1. JGlanton says:

    I go to some of these areas and its disappointing to see how people have trampled new trails into the fragile desert environment. The trails become become ruts when it rains again and the flowers won’t regrow there for a long time. Every park has strict rules about staying on trails and not picking flowers but many people ignore the rules so they can get closeup photos and selfies. I was in a remote area on Monday and passed a group of 50 Chinese people hiking in with cameras. Judging by my past experiences helping them, they’ll use their language barrier to break the rules and trample the flowers.

    I’d have to say the the biggest catalyst of the crowds are the newspaper and websites that sensationalize the superbloom with incredible photos from past years and provide directions on where the best places to see them are. People flock to those spots, cause damage, and create more stories to feed the news media. A positive feedback loop news cycle, if you will.

    With some work, there are good sites that most people won’t go to because it requires long hikes into the mountains. Most of the selfie-generation want to drive up, get out, take “awesome” photos of themselves looking like they are alone in the flowers, and drive away. Each person or group finds an untrampled spot to take their “me in a field of flowers Instagram shot” until there are no untrampled spots left.

    I was just coming back to my car from a beautiful wildflower and picnic spot on Sunday when a couple pulled up in their car and asked where the wildflower spot. I gave them directions to the trail but I knew they would never make it because they were fat and weren’t going to be able to climb a 1000′ steep trail up and then down again to get over the peak to a valley. That secret spot is safe.

    • It would be fine if they were taking a photo because they truly enjoyed the scenery. I do that, but they I stick around and continue to enjoy. They go to the coffee shot to upload the photo to show everyone how awesome they are.

  2. Liljeffyatemypuppy says:

    Flower Children indeed.

  3. […] mentioned the superbloom of poppies before, in terms of idiots ruining it as they step on all the flowers in a mass inflow of people […]

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