Be safe while enjoying this year’s exceptional wildflower bloom

A field of flowers dots the shoreline of Lake Elsinore at Sunset Friday, March 10. Kim Harris photo
A field of flowers dots the shoreline of Lake Elsinore at Sunset Friday, March 10. Kim Harris photo

I recently drove over to Lake Elsinore to get some photos for my story on the addition of Airstreams and retro camping experiences at La Laguna Resort in this week’s Valley News. I spent about 30 minutes or so with Mr. Williams down at the bait shop and store. He was full of knowledge and just a lot of fun to be around. After he took me on a brief tour of the grounds, I went off on my own and took some photos to accompany the story.

As I stood down by the lake’s shoreline, I noticed lots of color from all of the wildflowers in bloom around the lake, so I decided to take Lakeshore Drive back into town. As I meandered along the scenic drive, I noticed, thousands, and I mean thousands, of wildflowers in bloom around the lake. It was a beautiful site. I don’t think I have ever seen so many blooming at once there.

Since moving to Murrieta in 2012, we have been in an extended drought, something that definitely affects our wildflower blooms each year. I know that the Anza Borrego Desert is having an exceptional bloom this year, but had not paid much attention to what is happening here in my own backyard. Well, those flowers around the lake triggered something in me and I started paying closer attention. Now I am seeing wildflowers everywhere, I even noticed one blooming in a crack in the pavement on Winchester Road right before Murrieta Hot Springs. These little flowers with their vibrant pops of color sure are amazing.

I’ve noticed a swell of wildflower photos appearing in different social media groups that I belong to, California poppies seem to be the favored photos of choice, with desert lavender and ghost cactus’ running a close second and third respectively.

Before all of the wildflower bloom photos started showing up on my news feed, I was seeing a huge influx of waterfall photos from Tenaja Falls, Ortega Falls and even the damn at Canyon Lake overflowing and feeding in Lake Elsinore, which by the way is supposedly the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California.

We have come a long way from where we were just a few short months ago in our water levels. Those few months of torrential downpours and rainy days I complained about, they were all worth it, if you ask me.

One of the more alarming things I saw when looking through social media posts was a photo of people pulling over right on the highways to stop and look at the wildflowers. Since this bloom shows no sign of stopping soon, I wanted to share some tips for safely viewing wildflowers with our readers. After all, your safety is important to me, so I did a little internet research and here is what I found.

First and foremost, if you can go to one of our great natural resources, such as Lake Elsinore, Tenaja Falls, Oretga Falls, the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, the San Bernardino National Forest or even out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park to view wildflowers, please do so. While there might be a small fee to utilize our parks, these places have specific parking lots that are much more safe than pulling over along any one of our highways.

I found these tips from the San Diego Sheriff’s department and would say that they apply in virtually every city, town or park where visitors may want to view wildflowers.

Try visiting the parks during the week when there are fewer crowds but if you plan on visiting during a weekend, expect traffic delays up to several hours on roads leading in and out wildflower viewing areas.

Do not stop your vehicle in the middle of the road. Find a legal spot to park on the side of the road or in a parking lot and be sure to respect private property.

If you damage or park on private property you could receive a ticket or worse, have your vehicle towed.

When visiting any one of the public parks, be sure to pick up any trash and dispose of it properly.

Always go wildflower viewing with plenty of water, food or snacks and make sure your cellphone is fully charged.

If you experience an emergency be sure to call 911 immediately.

Happy, SAFE, wildflower viewing!

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