About twelve miles from the nearest entrance to where I was staying is the Cholla (pronounced choy-ah) Cactus Garden. It’s a landmark site in Joshua Tree National Park, placed right alongside a fairly main thoroughfare. A flat and occasionally boardwalk-ed loop trail leads you through a garden area that is best seen at sunrise. Because this is very popular at that hour, you are encouraged to get there quite early to get a parking spot. I arrived well in advance of the actual sunrise and even though I was not there during peak season, I failed to get a spot. So, I left the rental car precariously and probably annoyingly along the road’s shoulder.
There are numerous warnings posted throughout the garden that you must stay on the trail and avoid touching the cacti at all costs. The small prickly needles are quite sharp, and because of how they are serrated, particularly difficult to remove.
Departing from the site after a rousing 45 minutes in the chilly morning air, I reached down to tie the laces of my boot only to discover that some of the needles had been lodged on the shoe. Several stuck me and I can vouch for the fact that they are sharp and surprisingly difficult to pull out. These cacti are far better seen and never touched.