The Cholla (pronounced Cho-Ya) Cactus Garden is a 1/4 mile loop of trail in the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park. Here you can find a massive collection of this particular species of cacti. They are unique little cacti, covered in a disarming amount of large spines that possess a slight yellowish hue and appear, at least from a distance, like fuzzy desert flowers. Though quite lovely to look at, they are cacti nonetheless and their sharp spines are capable of easily piercing skin and also possess a toxicity that causes reasonable irritation.

Cholla is a variety of cacti that represents more than 20 different species. Only one variety is featured at this location, one whose common name is the “teddy bear” cholla. I suppose I could understand the name if it were provided to them by someone who’d only ever seen one from a distance. They are amazing plants, utilizing their stems to perform numerous  functions including photosynthesis and water storage.

There is an almost Seussian quality about them, a result of the aforementioned color and fuzziness combined with the awkward way in which their limbs grow as they age. Cholla Cactus Garden, therefore, looks much like something you’d expect to find in Whoville. It is a whimsical little stretch of desert and is only made to look even more vibrant beneath the bright sapphire-blue desert sun.

Though the trail is only a quarter-mile long, I would encourage allotting enough time for pictures and for a leisurely stroll through the garden. There is a patient, peaceful energy that permeates the area and, unlike the little cacti themselves, it is something that you can take with you.

Oh, and watch out for bees!