"Sonoran Desert Primer" Top 5 Page for this destination Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument by mtncorg
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Travel Guide: 100 reviews and 238 photos
In southcentral Arizona, in the middle of nowhere, on a road to nowhere, this Park lies along the Mexican border encompassing a goodly section - at first glance - of some of the most desolate country around. Don't come in summer. There is a reason they called the earlier path through this country, 'El Camino del Diablo' - the Road of the Devil. This is low desert with air temperautres of 118F and ground temperatures a literal blast furnace at 175F during the summer. You are warned. But in October through April, a second glance will surprise you. There is a veritible profusion of greenery and flowers. It still looks like a desrt, but not a form you might be familiar with.
There are four types of warm weather deserts in the US: Great Basin, Mojave, Chihuahuan and Sonoran. Here is one of the best examples of protected Sonoran deserts in the US. The Park celebrates the organ pipe cactus, a tall cactus which sends many spiky columns vertically arranged from a common base - hence the name organ pipe. Besides the organ pipe, there is a whole panoply of cactuses and other desert flora unique to a Sonoran desert. In late winter you will be surprised at the extent of the greenery - this is not a Chiuahuan desert.
There are two scenic drives which both loop utilizing good graded dirt roads: the 53 mile half-day Puerto Blanco Drive encircling the Puerto Blanco mMtns over to the desert oasis of Quitobaquito Springs; and the 21 mile two hour Ajo Mtn Drive circling through the foothills of the Ajo Mtns which form the eastern border of the Park. There are several trails - short nature trails near the Park's sole campground - in turn next to the Visitor Center; two other longer trails include the Victoria Mine trail 4.5 miles and the Estes Canyon-Bull Pasture trail 4.1 miles which climbs off the Ajo Mtn Drive to the base of Mt Ajo - highly recommended.
NOTE: PUERTO BLANCO ROAD IS CLOSED UNTIL 1 JAN 2004
There are no services in the Park besdied the campground and the Visitor Center, both more or less in the center of the Park. You can find services in Why and Lukeville or better yet, in Ajo to the north or Sonoyta, in Mexico, to the south.
To get to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, you drive west of Phoenix on I 10 to Buckeye, where AZ 85 heads south - about 90 miles and many javelinas south of I 10.
- Pros:desert ecology and fullness within the empty
- Cons:desert heat and nasty cactus spines
- In a nutshell:Cactus Botany 101
Out and about in the desert, you need to stay well hydrated and protected from the sun. Ther are no reliable water... more travel advice
This isn't a cactus and doesn't store water like a succulent. It has many tiny leaves which the plant sheds during... more travel advice
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