Teddy Bear Cholla in Joshua Tree Park

Teddy Bear Cholla Joshua Tree National Park

We are still on our desert road trip. Yesterday we drove through Joshua Tree National Park, down a road that took us through a box canyon with some crazy terrain, and then down along the east coast of the Salton Sea. I was surprised to see a lot of agriculture out there in the middle of the desert. Needless to say it was an incredibly varied trip. Unfortunately, we have left the relatively cool temperatures in Joshua Tree and are back in the land of hot, hot, hot. Hot. HOT. If you ever find yourself driving through the desert during a summer heatwave, I highly suggest purchasing a $2 spray bottle with which to mist your face. Cools you down quickly.

Teddy Bear Cholla

This is far too much to cover in one post so instead I’ve included a few shots from one small portion of Joshua Tree. Unfortunately, they are currently doing road work and the part I wanted to see most, The Cholla Cactus Garden, was closed. We were stopped by a friendly construction crew guy somewhere along the road going down into the Pinto Basin. He told us it would be about a 20 minute wait so we grabbed our cameras and got out to take pictures. It was not the Cholla Garden, but the area was teeming with some of the largest and healthiest Teddy Bear Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) I had seen on the trip.

Cholla Cactus Fruit Cactus Wren Nest in a Cholla at Joshua Tree

Many of them bore fruit and a few held nests built by cactus wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus)!

Desert Iguana Joshua Tree National Park

It did not take long for 20 minutes to go by and just before we were set to leave, the friendly road worker alerted us to a Desert Iguana (Dipsosaurus dorsalis) just off the side of the road. He said they had been coming out more often since temperatures in the park had risen, but this was the closest he had seen.

What a beautiful creature. Seeing it certainly lessened the blow of missing out on the more densely-packed Cholla Garden. We were actually escorted by a pilot car for several miles through the park and past the roadwork so the most we were able to see of the actual Cholla Garden was through the car window as we zoomed by.

cholla garden Joshua Tree National ParkI did manage to snap off one decent shot of the Cholla Garden as we passed by.

I absolutely loved the Joshua Tree area. It was my favourite part of the trip so far and I am already thinking about coming back, but staying in that area only so that I can explore more closely. More pictures to come.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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