It’s surprising the number of people who have never heard of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
Organ Pipe was created by presidential proclamation, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in 1937. The monument preserves about 330,000 diverse acres. In 1976 it was declared a Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations and in 1978 Congress declared 95% of the monument a wilderness area. Today we can enjoy hiking and driving, in designated areas, this fairly pristine part of our state. Park visitation is light, so you experience some solitude too.
The belle of the ball is the Organ Pipe Cactus. I bet you can guess which one she is in this picture. You will also enjoy the beautiful saguaros, a couple varieties of cholla and in some areas of the park agaves. Of course you are surrounded by beautiful mountains within our country and Mexico.
Each huge arm starts out as tiny little one. There appears to be no rhyme or reason where they decide to grow.
If you decide to take the Ajo Mountain drive, it’s a beautiful 21 mile drive on a mostly gravel road, pick up a copy of the Drive Guide in the visitor center. If we hadn’t had one we may have missed this incredible crested organ pipe. No one knows what causes cresting in cacti, but this one is amazing. Fortunately our 24 foot RV met the vehicle limits to drive the road. We did a lot of stopping and exploring along the way. We were out six hours. Several days during the week there is a three hour van tour provided by the park.
Sadly, like all things in nature, there is an end to life. This once huge specimen is losing it’s battle one arm at a time.
Even in death, there is a beauty. Removal of any objects from the monument is prohibited, however this would look amazing in our backyard.
Isn’t it great how all the cactus get along? Or maybe they were meeting up for coffee and will go their separate ways when night falls.
Organ Pipe is about a three hour drive from Tucson, less than 200 miles. You could leave early, spend several hours in the park, and return to Tucson late in the day. There’s a beautiful campground for tents and RV’s and sparkling clean restrooms. If you’re looking for a motel, you’re about 30 miles, straight up the road, to Ajo. I wouldn’t recommend visiting the park in the summer. Between the heat and the threat of flash flooding during our monsoon season, it wouldn’t be an enjoyable experience. We had perfect weather for our three day visit in January. Let me know if you decide to take a trip.