Day Trip #11: The Cholla Cactus Garden
By Lynn Bremner
Location: Joshua Tree National Park along Pinto Basin Rd.
The Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park is a wonderland of Cholla cactus. You’ll find the garden along Pinto Basin Road, which runs through the heart of the park. A sea of green, silver and gold, the cactus garden provides a rare and beautiful experience. Walk from the parking area to the short nature trail, meander through the Cholla and enjoy observing the fuzzy joints of this unusual cactus.
The species of Cholla that grows in the garden is scientifically named Opuntia bigelovii, but often called Teddy Bear Cholla or Jumping Cholla. The latter name was derived from the way the joints break off — very easily after being only slightly bumped or disturbed. Watch the ground carefully as you walk for these stray bits! New cactus start growing from the broken-off joints, and the garden continues to grow and renew itself.
If you are interested in photography this is a great location to get some sunset photos. The silvery-gold sheen of the spines as the light glints through their sheathes, and the shape of the Cholla, make for some spectacular shots when the sun starts to drop. If you visit the park, the Cholla Garden should be on your list of things to see and do. The nature trail only takes about 10 minutes to walk through and the photos you get will be well worth the time!
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