Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument celebrates the life and landscape of the Sonoran Desert. Here, in this desert wilderness of plants and animals and dramatic mountains and plains scenery, you can drive a lonely road, hike a backcountry trail, camp beneath a clear desert sky, or just soak in the warmth and beauty of the Southwest. The Monument exhibits an extraordinary collection of plants of the Sonoran Desert, including the organ pipe cactus, a large cactus rarely found in the United States.
There are also many creatures that have been able to adapt themselves to
extreme temperatures, intense sunlight and little rainfall.
This is a rather pleasant national monument located right
on the border
with Mexico. This monument can be extremely hot during the summer, but
is quite pleasent during the other 3 seasons, when temperatures are usually
in the 60's and 70's. There are two seperate dirt road loops that run inside
the monument that are worth the time it takes to drive them. The scenery
is spectacular, with an abundance of saguaros, chollas, and of course, the
organ pipe cactus.
Operating Hours, Seasons
Visitor Center open daily 8:00 am - 5:00 pm except Christmas Day
PLANE - Nearby airports are in Phoenix and Tuscon.
CAR - From the north: follow AZ 85 through Ajo and Why.
The Monument is 22 miles (35.4 km) south of Why. From the east: follow
AZ 86 to Why, then turn south on AZ 85. From the west: follow I-8 to Gila
Bend or I-10 to Buckeye, then turn south on AZ 85. From Mexico: drive
on Mexico Route 2 to Sonoyta, then north to Lukeville.
Weather & Climate
Nov.-Apr. is mild and usually sunny, May-Oct. is hot, with daytime temperatures over 100 degrees F. Two rainy periods yearly - December through March there are usually gentle rains; thunderstorms likely during August and September. Rain gear is recommended during these periods.
The visitor center, parking area, and rest rooms are handicapped accessible.
Twin Peaks Campground
Open All Year
208 campsites are available on a first-come first-served basis all year for $10.00 a night. Length of RV unit is not to exceed 35 feet. Generator hours 12 noon to 4 pm only. Water, rest rooms, grills, tables, and a dump station are available. Fires are permitted in grills, but wood gathering is prohibited
This campsite fills up quickly on the winter weekends. It becomes a parking lot full of RV's and trailers... not many people in tents. The campsites are usually pretty large, with a number of them with tent pads (gravel area). It can and does get into the 30's at night, so plan accordingly.
Open All Year
Primitive campground with pit toilet(no water). Four sites that are tents only. First come/first served with a permit available at the visitor center. Cost: $6 per site per night
Activities and More Information
The visitor center, your best source of park information, has books, brochures, maps, exhibits and slide shows. Park rangers are there to talk over plans and interests with you. Schedules of guided walks, talks and other programs are posted in the winter. When you are ready to begin your desert explorations, you will find scenic drives and hiking trails just short distances away. If you visit between October and April, you can expect sunny days in the 60s and 70s F and occasional light rains. From May through September temperatures often exceed 105 F and brief, violent thunderstorms sometimes occur. Nights are considerably cooler than days year-round.
Two scenic loop roads - the Ajo Mountain Drive and the Puerto Blanco Drive - penetrate desert country. Both are winding, up-and-down graded dirt roads. Passenger vehicles can travel them easily, but if you are driving a motor home more than 25 feet long, you should not travel these unpaved roads. Even some small motor homes have difficulty, so check with a ranger first. Trailers are not recommended on these roads. Guidebooks are available at the visitor center and at the start of both drives. When on the road: carry emergency tools; take drinking water and extra water for your vehicle; stay away from flooded areas; and never drive off the road. The 21-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 cacti are among the highlights of this tour. The drive takes about two hours. The 53-mile Puerto Blanco Drive circles the colorful Puerto Blanco Mountains and passes through a startling variety of scenery. Around one corner you will find the desert oasis of Quitobaquito, while around another you'll find a true Sonoran Desert environment, with saguaros, organ pipe cacti and elephant trees. This trip takes half a day.
Besides these two roads, there are a few unimproved dirt roads that go further into the backcountry. Some lead to historic sites with windmills, ranch houses, abandoned gold and silver mines and other remnants of the past. Sometimes these roads are passable only by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. Check on road conditions at the visitor center.
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