- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument celebrates the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert. In this desert wilderness an extraordinary collection of plants and animals have adapted to the Sonoran Desert landscape of extreme temperatures, intense sunlight and little rainfall. Many of the flora and fauna, including the organ pipe cactus, living in this region are found nowhere else in the United States.
Copyright: - US National Park Service
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Recreation - This National Monument supports such activities as hiking, backpacking, camping, biking and picnicking. A good place to begin your tour is the visitor center, which has a slide program and exhibits about the Sonoran Desert, as well as a knowledgeable staff and bookstore. Ranger conducted activities are generally available from the visitor center every day December through mid-April.
There are two scenic loop roads within the park: Ajo Mountain Drive and Puerto Blanco Drive. Twenty-one mile Ajo Mountain Drive winds along the foothills of the Ajo Mountains, the highest range in the area. Outstanding desert landscapes and impressive stands of organ pipe cactus are among the highlights of this tour. The drive takes about two hours.
Fifty-three mile Puerto Blanco Drive circles the colorful Puerto Blanco Mountains and passes through a variety of scenery. Visitors will pass through the desert oasis of Quitobaquito and a characteristic Sonoran Desert environment, with saguaros, organ pipe cacti and elephant trees. This trip takes half a day.
Both are winding, graded dirt roads and pose not problem for passenger vehicles. Recreational vehicles over 25 feet long should not travel these roads. Ramadas and picnic areas are located in scenic spots along both drives.
In addition to these two roads, there are a few unimproved dirt roads that lead further into the backcountry. Some lead to historic sites with windmills, ranch houses, abandoned gold and silver mines and other remnants of the past. Certain conditions make these roads passable only by four-wheel drive vehicles.
Several trails in the monument offer close looks into the unique desert landscape. The best hiking months are October through April. The Visitor Center Nature Trail is wheelchair accessible. Other trails vary in distance and difficulty and destination. Visitors with natural and historical interests will find interesting sites in the monuments trail system.
A campground within the monument provides 208 campsites, which are available on a first-come first-served basis throughout the year. The sites can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet. Generators are permitted from noon to 4 p.m. only. Water, rest rooms, grills, tables and a dump station are available on site. Fires are permitted in grills, but wood gathering is prohibited. A permit, available at the visitor center, is required for the primitive campground and for backcountry camping. A group campground is available on a reservation basis.
Climate - The southern Arizona climate is extreme. This site lies in the Sonoran Desert, which is shared with northern Mexico. November through April is mild and usually sunny and the time of year when most visitors come to Organ Pipe. May through October is hot. Daytime temperatures often reach over 100 degrees F. There are two annual rainy periods in this climate. December through March there are usually gentle rains, then thunderstorms come during the hot months of August and September. Rain gear is recommended during these periods.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument lies on the central Arizona/Mexico border. It is east of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and west of the Papago Indian Reservation. Ajo is the largest community in the area and it can be accessed via State Highway 85.