LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA) — Walker Canyon reopened Monday after being shut down due to a weekend frenzy to see the California poppies blooming all throughout the hills.
The city of Lake Elsinore reopened the area to visitors, with the caveat that parking is extremely limited. Officials say they are continuing to evaluate all possible options to reduce the strain on the community, the freeway and local roadways.
Walker Canyon was shut down to all visitors Sunday after thousands of people descending on the area, leading to heavy traffic and illegal parking along the 15 Freeway. In a statement posted on social media Sunday, the city said, “the situation has escalated beyond our available resources.” The Lake Street and Nichols ramps from the 15 Freeway were completely closed.
Lake Street and Nichols Road have also reopened.
This year’s record-breaking rainfall have led to the hills of Walker Canyon coming alive in orange hues, causing traffic on the adjacent freeway to grind to a halt and drivers to do dangerous things – like illegally park on the side of the freeway – in order to take in the so-called superbloom in person and maybe get a few pictures to post on social media.
The city pulled in all available staff, outside traffic controllers, and shuttles to help manage the crowds.
Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos recorded several videos to document the vibrant hillsides, the huge influx of crowds and officers ticketing cars illegally parking along the freeway.
“We’ve got some work to do, lots of people here,” he said. “Let’s take care and make sure we’re kind to one another as we get through this and we will be looking and making adjustments as time goes on.”