Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree isn’t really a hike, but it is an amazing stop in Joshua Tree National Park. This stop only requires some gentle strolling. The distance is variable according to your mood. We only walked a little over a quarter of a mile loop. The cactus garden is unique, so it is worth the drive down from the center part of the park.
Cholla Cactuses are sometimes called “teddy bear cactuses,” because they resemble a soft, fluffy, stuffed animal. However, they are very prickly and fragile. This is so that they can grab on to anything that walks too close and hitchhike to a new location. In the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree, these cool plants grow thickly in a large group. They also grow very close to the trail.
We parked at the Cholla Cactus Garden and joined the crowd headed down the trail. The trail is clearly defined, and there are even a few bridges for some reason (probably to keep you on the trail). Despite this, we observed many people leaving the trail to wander among the cactuses. They seemed oblivious to the fact that they were damaging the area. Please stay on trails, even if that photo is amazing.
The cholla do look a bit like teddy bears. We were surprised at how dark the bottom of the cactuses were. It seems as if the bottom portion dies and turns black, which is in stark contrast to the new white growth up above. The cactuses weren’t in bloom when we visited in January, but in early Spring, they must be spectacular. You can see a few buds beginning to grow on these cacti.
Though we didn’t find much to do down toward the Cottonwood Spring area, you should definitely drive south to this point in the park. Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree is worth the trip! Definitely a unique spot in this national park. For other easy trails in Joshua Tree, visit our Joshua Tree Kid Hikes Post.