Photograph the Cholla Cactus Gardens at Sunrise or Sunset

Cholla Cactus Garden Loop, Riverside County, California, United States

  • Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    0.25 Miles

Easy Parking
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers

Cholla Cactus Garden is home to thousands of cactus with some wildflowers during the right season. This is a great sport for sunrise and sunset as the cactus begin to glow in the light. 

The Cholla Cactus Garden is something everyone can appreciate and enjoy. The trail is in total about a 0.25 loop, but you are certainly free to wander around more. Plan on spending at least 30 minutes to an hour enjoying the scenery.

If you are a photographer, you will be enthralled by the lighting conditions. The garden is located off of Pinto Basin Roa in Joshua Tree. The parking lot is 20 miles north of the Cottonwood Visitor Center and almost impossible to miss as it is surrounded by the thousands of cactus that make the spot so famous.

During the early morning or sunset, the needles on the cactus begin to look like they glow and it creates quite a scene. It is usually not too crowded so it is a great spot to just relax at after a long day of hiking or rock climbing. Jumbo Rocks and White Tank campgrounds are both near by if you are staying in the park overnight.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Warmer clothes as the sun sets
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

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watch your step. i moved to the side as an elderly couple passed and got attacked by the jumping cactus, which is a well earned name, i didn't even get close to one, but sure enough i was picking spines out all day long. still worth 4 stars though

9 months ago
9 months ago

A must see if you are at J Tree. It is awesome!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

These "jumping teddy bears" are no joke. My girlfriend got one stuck in her ankle and if it weren't for a few rocks lying around, I'm not sure how we would have gotten the cactus out of her! (nearly a year later and she still has little "scars") Don't let this steer you away, though. Other than the dark skies, shooting these Cholla at sunrise was what I was MOST excited about at Joshua Tree. The color of the sky mixed with the Cholla glow is a photographer's paradise!!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

The jumping cholla will get you if you're not extremely careful. It's very easy to pick up a broken-off section of the plant along the trail, so be very diligent about where you step.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

After spending a few days in Joshua Tree, we saved this spot for sunrise on the last day. Let me just say that we saved the best for last. As he said, the light coming off the cacti glows in the morning and it is absolutely spectacular! Definitely make sure to visit on your trip to Joshua Tree.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Ryan Dewane

Dedicated adventurer who is always looking to get away from the crowds.

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