California’s Hottest Attraction…Poppy Flowers?

by Shelli

Happy first day of spring!

If you’re currently in Southern California, don’t miss out on “poppy mania.” Heck, people are even coming from Northern California and neighboring states to get a look at the incredible poppy bloom. But with this poppy bloom comes a nightmare, and I got stuck in it this past weekend.

When traveling, have you ever been in the right place at the wrong time? Or the wrong place at the right time? Or even both at the same time?

Me, The Poppies, & Thousands Catching Them

This past Sunday I drove from San Diego to Pasadena to spend time with family. I set out heading north on interstate 15, and all was going well as I enjoyed my coffee and the drive. A few miles south of Lake Elsinore, traffic came to a halt. I don’t mean traffic slowed down as is often the case in southern California, even on the weekends. Traffic slowed to barely a crawl.

I couldn’t see any evidence of an accident. However, I could see traffic at a standstill as far as the eye could see.

I did notice a mile or so up ahead that the hillside was alive, and in brilliant bloom with the colors of orange and purple. Southern California has had a very wet winter, so the poppy bloom was early and indeed very pretty. I called my family to tell them I’d be late. Assuming there was an accident, they told me to get off at an outlet mall in Lake Elsinore and wait out the traffic.

I spotted the mall and saw port-o-potties with hundreds of people in line. I kid you not, hundreds of people. Next I noticed that people were streaming over a bridge and across the interstate, and that cars were parked all over the place. I’m no shopper, but I couldn’t imagine what was for sale at the outlet mall that would bring so many people to Lake Elsinore, which as towns in southern CA go, really is in the middle of nowhere.

Seeing The Poppy Bloom Mania Up Close

Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

I looked into the hills more closely and saw thousands of people walking up and down throughout the poppy fields and up and down the trails. I know you think I’m exaggerating, even if I tell you I’m not.

A friend, who had no idea I was driving to Pasadena on Sunday, happened to call. When I told her in great astonishment what I was observing, she replied that she knew all about the poppy bloom mania because of an article in the San Diego Times.

Holy-poppy-moly, I must have been under a rock all week, because I hadn’t caught the local news at all. Here I was in the middle of a historic super bloom!

The Upshot

As you’ll read in this article, the traffic got so bad they closed the canyon to visitors. The poppy peepers keep coming in droves to the tune of 50,000 each weekend. Yesterday, NPR also ran a story about the poppy mania.

The glorious colors and bloom will be around for a while, so catch it if you can (or want to). Just know that there might be a just a few others enjoying the poppy-palooza wildflowers the same time you are.

In case you’re wondering, YES, I did finally make it to Pasadena and NO, I did not go back to San Diego via Lake Elsinore!

Will you be making your way to Southern California (by plane or otherwise) for the poppy spotting? 




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Tatiana September 23, 2019 - 11:31 am

It happens everywhere in California where poppies bloom, Antelope Valley too, for example. It was not as bad the last time there was superbloom a couple of years ago only this year the mania grew to such ridiculous proportions.

Shelli September 23, 2019 - 2:33 pm

It is a statewide happening, true. I’d never been in the middle of the mania before. Quite an experience. Thanks for reading, Tatiana!


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