CACTI IN COLORADO! (Blooming Prickly Pear Cacti at Castlewood Canyon)

Blooming Prickly Pear Cactus Yes folks, let's dispell the myth right now: Colorado grows all sorts of cacti! While it's true that my home state isn't as lush with cacti and desert plants compared to places like New Mexico, Arizona and southern California, remember that much of Colorado has a fairly arid climate. Arizona has a "dry heat", and Colorado has a "dry cold!"

In elevations ranging from 5,000 to 7,000 feet in altitude, cacti grow quite well and even flourish in some areas. For example, you'll notice many "walking stick cacti" (a variation of the cholla cactus) in areas near Pueblo and Canon City. Also, up and down Colorado's front range, it is quite common to see wild prickly pear cacti as a native plant. My hike this summer at Castlewood Canyon State Park, approximately 35 miles south of Denver will illustrate just that.

Note the bloom bright yellow flower of the cacti in the adjacent photo. Wowwee! And that's not a grafted cacti some shamefully construct that you might see in your average retail store. That's a 100% legitimate cactus in bloom!

Notice that some of these prickly pear cacti can grow fairly large in space, as seen in the bottom right photo on this page

I did this reasonably short hike inside Castlewood Canyon Park in June 2005. It's definitely an interesting canyon situated in Colorado's eastern plains, and if you should visit, you'll certainly enjoy the hike inside the canyon and the fascinating rock structures. Just keep your eye out for the cacti ... they're there too! :)

-This article was contributed by Steve Garufi in Buena Vista, Colorado. His Twitter page is: @SteveGarufi.

Below are two more photos of prickly pear cacti in bloom inside the park.
Blooming Prickly Pear Blooming Prickly Pear

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