Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Sunset with organ pipes and antler

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is in the Western region of Arizona in the United States.

Understand

More untouched and lush (for a desert that is) than more easily accessed American SW desert parks, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was created to protect its namesake, the organ pipe cactus, the monument being the largest concentration of the plant in the United States. It is located in the extreme southern portion of Arizona, the visitor's center being less than 10 miles from the Mexican border. The nearest large population centers are Tucson and Yuma, both over 150 mi from the monument, though several small towns with gas stations, hotels, and groceries are near the Northern borders of the park, and other towns near the southern edge, if one wishes to drive across the Mexican border (the single US highway into the park continues directly into Mexico).

Flora and fauna

Though named for the Organ Pipe Cactus - the park ironically has far more Saguaro cactus than those of the Organ Pipe variety - and again ironically - in far higher concentrations than say - Saguaro Cactus National Park, also of Arizona. In essence, the park is a relatively lush and untouched American SW desert environment, with a far higher concentration of cacti and other desert plants than perhaps anywhere else in the American SW - with a decent and best in US, but not exactly overwhelming (this is the N. end of its range), number of Organ Pipe Cacti interspersed.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 70 73 78 85 93 101 103 102 99 89 78 69
Nightly lows (°F) 40 43 46 51 59 66 75 74 68 57 46 40
Precipitation (in) 1.0 0.9 0.9 0.3 0.1 0.1 1.4 2.6 0.8 0.6 0.5 1.2

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Get in

The only viable method to reach the park is via car. Arizona Highway 85 leads south into the monument. There is no public transit into the monument.

The nearest major airports are in Phoenix and Tucson.

Fees/Permits

The entrance fee is $8 per vehicle, or $4 for individuals. Entrance fees are valid for seven days. There is also an annual pass that allows access to the park for one year for $20.

There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument:

In 2016 the National Park Service will offer several days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 16-24 (National Park Week), August 25-28 (National Park Service's 100th birthday weekend), September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Get around

There is no public transit in the monument. Private vehicles or hiking are the only options for getting around.

See

Do

North Puerto Blanco Scenic Drive
Historic ruins along the Victoria Mine Trail
Arches as seen from Arch Canyon Trail
  • Alamo Canyon Trail
  • Arch Canyon Trail (Ajo Mountain area)
  • Bull Pasture Trail (Ajo Mountain area)
  • Campground perimeter trail (pet friendly)
  • Desert View Trail
  • Estes Canyon Trail (Ajo Mountain area)
  • Palo Verde Trail (pet friendly)
  • Victoria Mine Trail, please stay on the trail
  • Visitor Center Nature Trail

Sleep

Lodging

There is no lodging in the monument. Ajo and other smaller towns are with 30 minutes of the park.

Camping

Backcountry

Due to border security concerns, the backcountry is closed indefinitely.

Stay safe

The monument is a remote, desert wilderness. Be sure to carry plenty of water both in your car and while hiking and drink regularly, even if not thirsty. If your car breaks down, stay with your car rather than attempting to find help on foot. It is much easier to find a vehicle in the desert than a person.

As mentioned above, the monument is on the U.S.-Mexico border. Due to the remoteness of the monument, it is used for illegal border crossings. Most of the persons illegally crossing present no threat to park visitors. However, there are some who use the monument for smuggling who are armed and dangerous. In 2002, a park ranger was shot and killed by a drug smuggler. The Kris Eggle Visitor Center has been named in his honor.

Visitors should be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activities to park rangers or border patrol officers.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, October 20, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.