In the Pinto Basin within the Joshua Tree National Park there is a garden like no other. The Cholla Cactus Garden is just one of the attractions of the park, but in spring with the desert plants in bloom it is spectacular.
The Cholla is a standing cacti that can grow to 10-12 feet high and spread its thorny branches about 3 to 5 feet wide. The yellowish color is bright and next to hedgehog cactus and desert lavender creates a wonderful contrast.
The area called garden is about 4 square miles and in addition of a parking space there is a trail that goes through nearly 10 acres of the area. A few miles from this garden there is another area where the Ocotillo shrub has taken hold and their unusual shape and height makes them stand out with their pink flowers.
Joshua Tree National Park was created in 1936 as a national monument. An area of almost a million acres it includes desert areas and a mountain range. It is home to the desert tortoise, a large specimen that can live 100 years. This is the habitat for over 800 plant species, 46 different reptiles and 57 mammals.
There are nine campgrounds and they tend to be busy so you will need to make a reservation in advance. If you like to walk and observe nature, there are 32 hiking trails that cover almost 200 miles.
The park is also one of the best places for rock climbing and there are 8,000 established routes to take. It is open year round and takes about two and half hours to get there from downtown LA. I suggest to enter the park from Hwy 62 right after Yucca Valley. Check the weather as there is snow in winter and possible flash floods in summer. This is a desert area so it can get quite hot in summer time, or very cold in winter so you must carry water with you if you are planning on walking any of the trails.
It is a place to keep going back with family, friends, or even alone to absorb all the beauty that is offers. Plan accordingly.