Cholla Cactus Garden Trail Joshua Tree National Park Hike California

Cholla Cactus Garden is one of Joshua Tree National Park’s one-of-a-kind features. Located at the merger of the upper Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert, this level quarter-mile loop provides access to an intense concentration of cholla cacti.

Joshua Tree Cholla Garden
The trail through Cholla Cactus Garden

Perhaps the cutest cactus on the planet, the cholla has been nicknamed the teddy bear cactus, but this is one teddy bear you do not want to hug! The cactus is covered in spines that will latch in to your skin on the slightest touch. This defense mechanism is effective for desert survival but can create an unpleasant experience for those who don’t stick to the trail.

A pamphlet at the trailhead provides more information about this unique desert plant. The short easy hike through Cholla Cactus Garden is well worth the stop.

Joshua Tree Cholla Garden
Cholla Cactus Garden

To get to the trailhead: The Cholla Cactus Garden is the main attraction on Pinto Basin Road on the way to Cottonwood Springs (and the trailhead to Lost Palms Oasis). From Park Boulevard, take Pinto Basin Road for 12 miles. The Cactus Garden is on the south side of the road.

Trailhead address: Pinto Basin Road, Joshua Tree National Park, CA 92277
Trailhead coordinates: 33.9253, -115.9289 (33° 55′ 31″N 115° 55′ 44″W)

Trail Map
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Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.


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These photos were taken in May of 2006 and April of 2010. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Mastodon Peak Trail Mastodon Peak
This 2.6-mile loop visits a 3,400-foot summit with panoramic views of southeastern Joshua Tree.
Lost Palms Oasis Trail Lost Palms Oasis
This 7.2-mile hike visits a desert oasis nestled between mountains in the southeast corner of the park.
Bajada Trail Bajada Trail
This level 0.3-mile nature trail loop explores the plants living on a desert bajada.
Desert Queen Mine Trail Desert Queen Mine
This 1.6-mile hike follows a level trail to an overlook before crossing a canyon to visits the ruins of one the most profitable gold mines in the California desert.
Barker Dam Trail Barker Dam
This level 1.5-mile loop visits a small foreign-looking reservoir within the Wonderland of Rocks.
Joshua Tree Oasis Trail Fortynine Palms Oasis
The 3-mile round trip hike visits a cool desert oasis.
Hidden Valley Trail Hidden Valley
This one mile loop circles the interior of a small valley surrounded by tall rocks that serves as an excellent bouldering arena.
India Cove Trail Indian Cove
The 101-site campground is home to a 0.6-mile interpretive trail and endless bouldering and rock climbing opportunities.
Ryan Mountain Trail Ryan Mountain
This 3-mile hike offers summit views from the center of Joshua Tree National Park.
Lost Horse Mine Trail Lost Horse Mine
This 4-mile round trip hike visits a well-preserved mine and mill.
Warren Peak Trail Warren Peak
This 5.5-mile hike summits a peak with impressive views over the west side of Joshua Tree.
high view nature trail High View Nature Trail
This 1 1/3-mile loop climbs a ridge on the west side of the park that offers views of San Gorgonio Mountain and Yucca Valley, along with an introduction to desert plants.
Lucky Boy Vista Trail Lucky Boy Vista
This level 2.5-mile hike visits a modest overlook at the site of an old mine.
Arch Rock Hike Joshua Tree Arch Rock
This short hike leads to a natural arch in the granite formations by White Tank Campground.
Keys View Trail Inspiration Peak
This 1.2-mile hike leaves the crowds at Keys View for even grander views at a 5,550-foot summit that looks out on the Coachella Valley, the Salton Sea, Mount San Jacinto, and much of Joshua Tree National Park.
California Trails Hikes in the California Desert
Explore more trails in Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Mojave National Preserve.
Joshua Tree Camping Joshua Tree Campgrounds
Nine campgrounds with 500 total sites are spread throughout the park to facilitate your visit.
Joshua Tree Wildflowers Joshua Tree Wildflowers
The desert in bloom is something any outdoor enthusiast in California should see.
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Tagged with · National Parks
Distance: 0.25 miles · Elevation change: 5 feet

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8 Comments on Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park

  1. Gene Poe wrote:

    DO NOT GET NEAR THESE! I know! If you only bush against those devils, they get into your skin, and have little hooks that you can’t pull out! I have two small ones, that I don’t even get near! You have been warn!

  2. […] bigelovii) is among the region’s most recognizable plants. Walking the park’s cholla cactus garden is a twisted wonderscape for plant lovers as it shows the deceptively cuddly looking plant (alt […]

  3. Mary Lembi wrote:

    How long does a Yucca Tree seed, called Soaptree Yucca Elata, take to grow into a tree that blooms white flowers,
    Sent on: July 3rd,2015. From: Lapine,OR 97739.

  4. […] for hiking and rock-climbing. My favorite activities were climbing up Mount Ryan, visiting the Chola cactus garden and just driving into a random road in the dessert and stargazing. The Natural Sisters bistro had […]

  5. […] Cholla Cactus Garden – this is a little loop trail surrounded by cholla cactus plants. A little bit of a drive but with it because they were pretty crazy looking! Also a perfect day-two activity. […]

  6. […] February 1, 2017September 9, 2017 by mywalkabout40 Melancholy mixed with tears covered the man’s face as he made his way through the desert, racing the setting sun. An oasis of chollas appear before him, a giant cluster of prickly beauty, seemingly unreal. He walks into the garden of cacti in a dream-like state of mind. A drum circle of young hipsters chants rhythmically. A young girl looks up, her eyes pierce his soul from her hand knit beanie. He flashes back to his own lost love. The moon pulls out the strangest of emotions, the truest of colors lying within each of us, waiting to explode with indignant rage, in the Cholla Gardens of Joshua Tree. […]

  7. […] Cactus Garden: About a 20-30 minute drive from Hidden Valley is a magical patch of Cholla Cacti. Because of the distance, we almost didn’t go, but it ended up being one of […]