The town of San Felipe, located in the beautiful state of Baja California Norte, Mexico, has a lot more to offer than good food, great weather and the crystalline waters of the Sea of Cortez.

Take a quick drive south of San Felipe and you’ll find a very unique park named “Valle de los Gigantes”, which translates to “Valley of the Giants”. This park is home to the majestic pachycereus pringlei, also known as the Mexican giant cardon or elephant cactus, the tallest growing cactus in the whole planet. The colossal cactus is unique to the Mexican states of Baja California Norte and Sonora, reaching heights of over 60 feet, and weighing up to 25 tons. While height and weight are its most obviously imposing characteristics, its lifespan is equally impressive. Experts have determined that the cardon cacti can live up to 300 years.

A giant cardon is able to reserve more than a ton of water in its trunk. Supporting this weight is no easy task, for which the cactus has developed an interior vertical hardwood structure. This heavy-duty framework has allowed for the cardon to become the tallest cactus species in the world, able to exist and thrive in the extremely brutal Baja California’s Sonoran Desert climate.

Flowers bloom on the upper tips of stems from March through June, and remain open for only one night. They will unfold in the afternoon, remain open all night, closing sometime around mid-morning the very next day. The flowers generate an abundant amount of nectar. The nectar produces a distinctive odor, especially designed to attract bats, as well as a heavy film of pollen that coats its ridge.

Walking among these giants is breath-taking, humbling and peaceful.  There is no wonder why this park has become a favorite spot among photographers, seeking for picturesque sunsets, and one-of-a-kind landscapes. Don’t forget the camera!