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The California Super Bloom Is Getting Trampled by Selfie-Takers

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 4/19/2017 Zoe Weiner

Taking the perfect, once-in-a-lifetime travel selfie can feel like a serious win. But at California's floral super bloom, the obsession with snapping a flawless photo is taking a serious toll on one of the state's most beautiful destinations.

Thousands of visitors have flocked to the swaths of blooming wildflowers across California, which span the state and are so large that they're visible from space. They are also incredibly rare and appear only every decade or so. Instead of staying on the marked trails and appreciating the blooms from afar, however, tourists have started to traipse through the flowers for photo ops, trampling them as they go. People are sitting on, lying down in, and jumping through the flowers, which crush the fragile blooms.

Dustin McLain, natural resource manager with Riverside County Parks & Open Space District, which oversees the California Super Bloom in Walker Canyon, was surprised by the amount of destruction this year. "Most people were very cognizant of not trampling," he told Mashable. "There were a good portion that were trying to do the right thing but just didn’t."

There are very clear signs, warnings, and pamphlets requesting that people stay on the trails for the sake of the flowers, though many people seem to ignore them for the sake of their own social media likes.

This isn't the first time someone's attempt at a selfie has taken a serious toll on nature: Last year, two baby dolphins died on separate occasions when tourists took them out of the water to hold for a photo, and Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park is suffering erosion from tourists who go off the paths for pictures. In addition to messing with the world around them, people are also hurting—and even killing—themselves while trying to get the perfect picture. One woman was bitten by a crocodile in Thailand while holding it for a selfie, and a tourist in California survived a fall from the state's highest bridge while she was trying to take a death-defying photo.

Hillside daisies (coreopsis) cover the hills in the Carrizo Plain National Monument near Taft, California during a wildflower "super bloom," April 5, 2017.After years of drought an explosion of wildflowers in southern and central California is drawing record crowds to see the rare abundance of color called a super bloom. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty Hillside daisies (coreopsis) cover the hills in the Carrizo Plain National Monument near Taft, California during a wildflower "super bloom," April 5, 2017.After years of drought an explosion of wildflowers in southern and central California is drawing record crowds to see the rare abundance of color called a super bloom. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

"Stay on OFFICIAL TRAILS only," says a statement on the California Poppy reserve's website. "Walking in the poppies crushes all of the wildflowers and will result in a ticket. DO NOT walk where others have already damaged plants or there is only bare dirt; it will compound the damage and leave a scar for years to come. No dogs, bikes, drones, or picking flowers." We have reached out to the reserve for comment.

As the saying goes, "Take only photos, leave only footprints." Just please—be careful where those footprints may fall. View our complete list of the best places to visit in the U.S.

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