The Cholla Cactus Garden
One of the neatest and most accessible exhibits in the Joshua Tree National Park is the Cholla Cactus Garden. It is located on the Pinto Basin Road with a spectacular view of the Pinto Basin as a backdrop. Being that this road is a major park road and smoothly paved makes this spot easily accessible to all. In fact there is a nice parking area right in the middle of the garden. Once out of your car there is a level gravel loop walking path to get you right inside among the cholla. It’s a nature walk so pick up the little pamphlet at the entrance to read about what is marked along the way. It’s quite interesting how all the plants and animals eek out a living in this harsh high desert environment.
Beware the Teddy Bear Cholla
A word of caution about cholla! They look all cute and fuzzy but they are really, really nasty if you get to close. The needles are extremely sharp and will dig into your skin immediately. They also sport a barbed end and are a pain (literally) to get out. Another name for the Teddy Bear cholla is the Jumping Cholla because if too close they seem to jump on to you. While hiking within the garden I had one of the fallen pieces grab onto my pant leg and several needles went right through my jeans and sock and into my skin. I’ll tell you I wouldn’t want to get a whole branch of needles in me. Also leave your dog in the car or on the parking area if you want to avoid a visit to the vet.
Great Photography Spot
We timed our visit for an hour before sunset so Anne could photograph the garden in the best light. The thing I like most about the Cholla cactus is the way it lights up and gets a halo glow when back lit. There is also the mountains and the grand expanse of the Pinto Basin for a background.
Video Clip of the Cholla Cactus Garden area
So when you visit Joshua Tree NP don’t just blast by this exhibit, take a ½ hour and have a walk in the Cholla Cactus Garden.