Cholla Hill

(Clicking on the image gives you a sweeter look in lightbox)

This is another shot from my brief little trip to the Nelson/El Dorado Canyon area southeast of Las Vegas on Wednesday. I have to say…I’ve really been loving these little trips after working on the road. I do a little research the night before (or the day of) and find something that looks interesting. Since I’m working with locals, I ask them if they know anything cool close by and then scout it out on Google Maps.

This hilltop jumped out at me. It was literally peppered with hundreds of Cholla cactus…something we also know as “Jumping Cactus” around these parts. There is a special reason for that, a fact you out-of-towners may need to pay attention to since I’ve heard a few of you would LOVE to visit Arizona someday (we have these there too, they aren’t only in Nevada).

Jumping cactus grow just fine and aren’t much of a threat…but when those lower growths start to die, they fall off and disperse/pile-up on the desert floor. The big issue is…if you walk over these dead needles in a pair of normal sneakers…prepare to have some sharp pains in your foot very quickly. The needles seem to “jump” at your shoe and burrow their way into them and right into your foot. And really it’s not just your shoe, but your entire body. Keep clear if you can.

Here’s a shot of a poor soul who had no idea.

I loved this scene. The sun was setting on the left side of the frame and really lit up the tops of each cactus. You usually see these all over, but it’s a little more rare to find a giant “forest” of them like this.

It’s amazing how much photography has made me appreciate the deserts. I just love exploring them these days.

(exif: canon eos 5d mark ii, canon 50mm 1.4, f/22, iso 100)



  • Tobias George

    Love the sky here, and use of B&W!

  • Chris Nitz

    What a striking shot. This almost looks like an alien landscape with all those little plants shooting up all over the place. Crazy cool shot!

  • Jesse

    Man, this is great. Love the simple framing and the criss crossing cloud formation. Fantastic.

  • Scott

    I love the perspective and BW toning!

  • Mark Garbowski

    I’ve got to venture beyond the City some more. There’s no desert around here, but it would be good to expand beyond the urban some more. That “forest” of cactus, as you call it, looks almost surreal.

  • Adam Olson

    This is a great photo! Love the sky! Nice B&W processing.

  • jina

    I can’t believe you didn’t tell the story of Raymond and the jumping cactus. For me, those two will forever be linked. It was horrible!

  • Mike

    Totally forgot about Raymond! That was awful!

  • Mark Blundell

    WOW almost looks like a miniature – really good shot, not surprised it jumped out at ‘cha!

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