Sunset at the Cholla Cactus Garden - Joshua Tree, CA
Having a yearly National Parks Pass is super great. Not only are you supporting the important work to maintain our country's stunning 58 parks, but you can also get in for free as many times as you want within a year. So we got to skip the $25 fee again and hit more sites in Joshua Tree on our last full day.
We were racing against sunset to make it to the Cholla Cactus Garden, but wanted to make a stop at the Barker Dam. It's a short little hike that meanders through some incredible rock formations.
This little cutie is so fun to hike with!
The dam itself is a 15 foot high concrete wall that's just to the left outside this shot, but it helps support the water storage you see here. It was originally built in 1900, and was raised in 1949.
We didn't get as much time as we wanted to explore here because we had to get back in the car and speed to the Cholla Cactus Garden. A very nice park ranger in the visitor's center told us this is his favorite spot to watch sunset and we didn't want to miss it! The drive seems long and windy, and we questioned more than once if we were even heading towards anything. We eventually came to a curve and saw a cluster of white little puffs in the distance and knew we finally made it. We ditched the car in the parking lot and jumped out to capture the last of the day's sun against these little beauties.
Gosh, this place is magical. You've got the sun setting behind the mountains and shining through these prickers on one side, and the sunlight pouring over the valley below on the other.
These guys are found primarily in the southwestern US, and need a good arid climate to survive. The fluffy-looking spines can grow up to an inch long and will easily penetrate skin. Even the purple flowers that bloom on the cacti in late spring are sharp and will stick to clothes and skin.
Sometimes this plant is called the "cane cholla" because of this...
Hilariously, the only help the park will give you are a pair of pliers and scissors. Cause that's about the only thing that'll help you if you brush against anything.
It just keeps getting better as the sun continues down.
We missed you, Josh!
A wrap on the day and a wrap on this amazing desert escape. We sadly boarded a flight back to the chilly east coast the next day, but we've already decided to book this same trip again next winter.
If you're anywhere near Palm Springs, make a pit stop at Joshua Tree Natl. Park. TIP: Reserve a camp site and take some time to stargaze. I'm already eager to explore more of the desert again.
Exciting news: I'm off to another new destination this week! So I'll be spamming your news feeds once more. This time it'll be chilly, but I plan to eat my weight in stroopwafles, Belgian chocolate, and pretzels.