Teddy Bear Cholla

April 21, 2013 ·

Miles Hecker


Smarter than the average bear
© Miles Hecker



Access to the Sonoran Desert section in the Rincon Mountain district of the park is via theCactus Forest Loop Drive.This eight-mile paved loop weaves among giant saguaro cacti in the foothills of the Rincon Mountains about 16 miles east of downtown Tucson.

In April when the daytime temperatures already approach 90°F, the cacti begin to flower in spectacular blooms. These include the Prickly Pear, the Fishhook Barrel Cactus and the Hedgehog Cactus. The signature bloom of the area, the Saguaro flower, occurs in June when the temperatures can easily exceed 100°F.

The plant has a soft appearance due to its solid mass of very formidable spines that completely cover the stems. From a distance, the stems appear soft and fuzzy, giving it the name ” teddy bear“. It is anyhthing but cuddly however. The spines are barbed, hold on tightly and sting.


An overcast day in spring is the best time day for this shot. Since most of the desert days are cloudless, carrying afolding reflector/diffuseralong with you is a good idea. The shot above was taken at the equivalent of a 28mm focal length lens on a full frame camera.


LENS: 28-70 mm on a full frame camera or a 17-40mm on a crop sensor camera


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