Cholla Cactus Garden

Morning Magic ♦ Sundown Glow

See Also

Pinto Basin

Ocotillos in Bloom

In the Neighborhood

Golden Bell Mine

(3D Galleries first. Anaglyphs require redcyan glasses to see the full 3D effect. 2D Gallery at bottom of page.)

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“Heed the lesson of Cleopatra’s asp, and avoid the sharp end”  — Anonymous 3D Photographer

Trek Dates, 2012 Nov 5, early morning light; 2013 Jan 31, golden hour.

THE LOVELY CHOLLA CACTUS GARDEN. What can we say but this stop along Pinto Basin Road should be high on your list of places to see in Joshua Tree National Park. Beautiful. Eerie. Surreal. Choose one, pick them all. Mix and match. Add your own colorful adjectives. Quiet, too, when you have the place to yourself. This little garden landscape, growing on a gravelly fan-shaped bed in Pinto Basin, will delight the first time visitor.

Whenever your 3D photographer enters a new locale in the park, he is reminded that this is “their” domain, the plants and animals, rocks and ghosts. Treat them with dignity, show respect, and they will return the favor (excuse any anthropomorphic leanings, I tend to do this).

The Teddy Bear Cholla is a gentlemanly fellow who can be relied on to do the right thing, if you give him half a chance. I have had dealings with him in my time, and I speak from knowledge. However, act frivolously, engage in any thoughtless way, and you will receive a return favor. If not immediately, then all in good time. The incident of Bucko in the nighttime, like the dog that did not bark in the Sherlock Holmes story, should be a lesson to us. You will read Bucko’s tale further on down this journal page. And smile. (Unless you, too, have had a similar revelation.)


3D Anaglyph Galleries

Be my guest and download as many of the 3D Anaglyph or 3D Half Side-by-Side photographs as you wish. Note: 3D H-SBS images should only be saved if you have access to a 3D TV.

First Trip, Ante-Meridiem

Wanderers, E! and Murbachi

Stop at Turkey Flats, airing out the chocolate chip cookie fumes from Big Blue…



Alas, for my good friend Elliot—the E! of these journals, whose web presence is found at Calif49—all his camerawork this day turned out to be for naught! Using brand new Nikon equipment, and with seeming success taking scores of photographs at our various stops, he returned home to discover that the new SD card he had purchased was defective. All but a couple of the photographs were lost! When he visits the Cholla Cactus Garden on a later date to record it for his website, I’ll add a link from this page. For now, his other JTNP work can be viewed HERE.

Second Trip, Post-Meridiem

Wayfarers, James “Bucko” Clutterbuck and Murbachi

(Hover mouse over for captions)

Wikipedia: “The teddy-bear cholla, is a cholla cactus species native to California, Arizona, and Nevada (USA) and Northwestern Mexico. Cylindropuntia bigelovii has a soft appearance due to its solid mass of very formidable spines that completely cover the stems, leading to its sardonic nickname of ‘teddy bear.”

Westerners like to pronounce this cho-lah. The Spanish pronunciation would be choi-yeh. Take your pick. But never forget Wikipedia’s defining phrase “very formidable spines.”

Incident in the Night

At one point in our excursion, following the reverential Touching of the Cholla, my friend noticed a cholla ball adhering to his tennis shoe.

Like its cousin the jumping cholla, the stems of this cactus detach easily and the ground around a mature plant is often littered with cholla balls and small plants starting where these balls rooted. You can see them in the photographs.

Naturally he started kicking his foot to dislodge the item. Wouldn’t budge. Several failed attempts and the cholla ball landed on the cuff of his jeans! A few more kicks and Bucko was cholla-free.

We finished our excursion in Joshua Tree Park, then got a bite to eat in 29 Palms before heading home. That night, when he returned to his loving wife of 39 years, Cathy, tired and bushed from our long hikes in the park, Bucko flopped down into his favorite recliner and slapped his heels down. It was then, and only then, that the spines he had carried with him from the park, and that had lain in wait for exactly this moment to take their revenge, embedded themselves in his leg! He says that Cathy had to use tweezers to remove the spines. I told him after I had learned about The Incident, that some people say Duct Tape works for removing cactus spines. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never been blessed.

— Murbachi


 3D Half Side-by-Side Galleries

Suitable for 3D TV viewing. Half Side-by-Sides avoid the minor Anaglyph anomalies that can occur. Click images to enlarge. 1080p resolution. Or Windows users, right-click and choose SAVE LINK AS.


2D Gallery


Thank you for visiting Murbachi’s very formidable Cholla Garden page!


Posted 2014 Oct 21

Updated 2017 Nov 10

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