Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the perfect weekend getaway. It’s less than a three hour drive from Tucson. In 130 miles you are along the Mexico border exploring a protected area of our beautiful Sonoran Desert. If you’re not into camping or have an RV, there are some hotels in Ajo, a short drive up the road from the park entrance.
When we visited the park in 2015, we weren’t towing our Jeep. We spent a day on the Ajo Mountain Road, slow and easy. As I remember, the only item that broke in our coach was the latch to the shower door. When you go off road in an RV, you tend to hear the dollars adding up, not to mention all the dirt that infiltrates your living/storage spaces. With our Jeep Wrangler, we can now go anywhere. We packed a picnic lunch and set out for a day of exploration.
It’s rare to find an Organ Pipe Cactus outside the park boundaries. This area is about as far north as they have migrated, unless you decide to purchase one from a local nursery. The park is also filled with the other cacti of the Sonoran Desert. It’s not a highly visited park, so you can get out and explore and enjoy the peacefulness of nature.
You are surrounded by mountains, clouds are always a bonus. They alleviate the brightness of the sun and create beautiful memories and pictures. Not a sign of civilization in sight.
There are plenty of trails to get out and explore.
Smile you’re on Candid Camera. It would be fun to see some of the images collected by this camera.
The trails we took were fairly easy strolls. This is a park you want to visit in the wintertime. The summer temperatures soar into the 100 plus range. You see a little evidence of what border crossers have left behind, but the park feels very safe. You just need to exercise caution and there are plenty of signs to warn you of potential danger.
All stages of the cacti’s circle of life are beautiful to me.
We hiked to this cool cave and got this great shot. The opening reminds me of a bear. The view goes on forever. After our wet winter, the park was strutting the green.
We took a short hike back to the Quitobaquito Oasis. The last time we were here was in the 70’s.
These waters have nurtured the Native Americans for centuries. Visitors to the springs ranged between Spanish, Sand Papago, Anglo, and Mexican from 1698 onward. Since then, it has been used for a variety of purposes, even manipulated to support farming in the region. The Spanish documented evidence of agriculture near the springs in 1774, and in roughly 1860, American farmer Andrew Dorsey settled in the region. He expanded the pond, built a dam, and grew a variety of produce including pomegranates and figs. Currently, the National Parks Service is working to properly manage and preserve this valuable cultural and ecological resource. When you live in the Sonoran Desert, you come to appreciate the value of water. To discover a place like this is a treasured memory.
It’s getting late in the season to visit Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. You may want to add it to your list of fall destinations. I would advise spending two or three days exploring and hiking. If you’re adventurous, bring your passport and wander down to the border town of Sonoyta.
This is the year to Find Your Park. Celebrate our countries National Park Centennial by visiting one of the best things our government ever did for us and future generations.
Share with us the parks you have visited in 2016.