During our trip to the Palm Springs area, we stopped at Joshua Tree National Park (JTNP). Driving in from the South side of the park, we were able to get in the park quickly and able to explore what the Park has to offer.
Having never previously visited JTNP and having limited knowledge about the Joshua Trees – thank you U2 – I spent much of the time peering out the window taking in the amazement of this other-worldly place. The southern end of the park is quite desert like. While you may think you’ve seen one desert, you’ve seen them all, JTNP is different.
As you climb in elevation, you are treated with a variety of different landscapes. Vegetation is sparse yet quite hardy. There are areas that have suited particular plant species very well. You can tell because all of a sudden there everywhere. That is the case for the Cholla Cactus Garden.
While not a tremendously large area, there is a fair patch of these small off-white/yellow prickly cacti. When you first come across them, as you’re driving the road, you may be tempted to pull off the side to snap a picture. I suggest you hold off as there is a parking area where you can get out and wander the trails through the Cholla Cactus Garden.
The Cholla Cactus Garden is mid-way between the northern and southern most edges of the JTNP. The JTNP Guide indicates that the trails are an easy 0.25 miles with a whopping 10 feet elevation gain.
View thousands of densely concentrated, naturally growing cholla cactus. Stay on the trail, wear closed-toe shoes, and be aware of prickly cactus.Joshua Tree National Park The Guide
Of course, since you are in the desert, it is a good idea to have plenty of water with you. Even during late winter, there can be hot temperatures. Be prepared.
Our visit was in late February and the cactus was not blooming yet. Apparently, this happens in the May/June time period. Regardless of the time of year, this is a nice little stop in the heart of JTNP. A great place to stop and take a stroll.