"Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument" Top 5 Page for this destination Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by KimberlyAnn
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Travel Guide: 100 reviews and 238 photos
We first visited this desert in 2001, and loved Organ Pipe so much that we extended what was planned as a two-week stay into a three-week stay, then made a return three week visit in 2005. Organ Pipe, a Sonoran Desert, is a wilderness of plants, animals, mountains and plains. You can drive this park along lonely roads or hike a backcountry trail. You will find 26 species of cacti inhabiting the monument, including the saguaro and the organ pipe cactus, which the monument is named for. The organ pipe is a large cactus that is very rare in the United States, but is common in Mexico. Most of the organ pipe cacti in the U.S. live within Organ Pipe national Monument. This monument encompasses 516-square-miles, and is an outstanding natural wilderness preserve where you will view a desert that is almost unspoiled. In 1976, the United Nations understanding the importance of this area of the world recognized Organ Pipe as an International Biosphere Reserve.
In 2005 SW Arizona had an above average winter rainfall. To see the greenery and the flowers these rains brought to the desert, please see my travelogues Desert Carpet of Wild flowers and Desert Greenery
The monument lies close to the International Boundary with Mexico, and over the years, problems with illegal boarder crossings have caused more and more safety concerns. In 2005 we found that all, except 5 miles, of the Puerto Blanco Drive was closed to visitors. This area of the park has had an increase in illegal activity along the boarder between the U.S. and Mexico. Drug runners and people sneaking across the boarder into the U.S. illegally frequently cross in this area on foot and in vehicles. Since then a fence has been constructed along the Mexican boarder of Organ Pipe to prevent vehicles from illegally entering the U.S. from Mexico and driving across the backcountry of the monument. The park is watching the situation to decide if and when it will be safe to reopen the drive. Since we were last there, all backcountry areas are also closed for overnight use.
If you are interested in the plight of Mexicans coming into the U.S. illegally you may wish to read the book, The Devils’s Highway a true story by Luis Alberto Urrea. This book is a moving, story that tells of a tragic incident that ended in the death of 14 Mexicans. The book will open your eyes to the difficulties of the U.S. Border Patrol, and the desperation of those trying to come to the U.S. from Mexico illegally. Part of the tale takes place in Organ Pipe National Monument and its nearby Mexican town of Sonoyta, Mexico. According to this book Organ Pipe is the most dangerous national park in America due to the drug and human smugglers crossing its backcountry. Most of this activity takes place in the Puerto Blanco area, which explains the closing of this section of the park.
You may also visit the web pages for the Border Information Outreach Service at www.us-mex.org/borderlines
- Pros:If you are interested in a desert with a wide variety of plants and wildlife, and you enjoy getting away from city life and back to nature then this is the place for you.
- Cons:If you must have trees, and if you are not an outdoors type of person you will not like Organ Pipe. From May through September you can find temperatures that can exceed 105 degrees, making hiking dangerous as well as uncomfortable.
- In a nutshell:A good place to get back to nature while hiking, bird watching, and exploring what I consider the most beautiful desert in the United States. Sadly, however, due to the Mexican border problems, this park is not as safe as it once was.
For additional information on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument write: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Route 1,... more travel advice
As you walk the desert of Organ Pipe you may occasionally see gallon jugs of plastic water bottles spaced here and there... more travel advice
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