DescriptionIn southwestern Arizona, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument preserves a diverse and relatively undisturbed sample of the Sonoran Desert of particular interest to desert aficionados. The organ pipe cactus thrives within the United States primarily in this 517-square-mile preserve. The spectacular saguaro cacti, along with the paloverde, ironwood and ocotillo, also contribute to the desert landscape.
The monument contains two scenic drives. The 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive begins near the visitor center, and conditions are generally good for car travel. The drive is closed occasionally because of adverse weather conditions or construction; phone ahead. No trailers or recreational vehicles more than 25 feet are permitted on this park road. A high-clearance vehicle is recommended for the 41-mile Puerto Blanco Loop. Check conditions at the visitor center.
The Kris Eggle Visitor Center, at Milepost 75 on scenic SR 85 (34 miles south of Ajo), is open daily 8-5; closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Exhibits interpret the monument's flora, fauna and cultural history. A 15-minute introductory slide program is shown upon request. Ranger-led interpretive programs are offered January through March. Self-guiding interpretive trails are near the visitor center and the campground area ($16 per night).
Admission is by 7-day permit. The cost is $12 (per private vehicle); $4 (per person arriving by other means). Fees may vary; phone ahead. For further information contact the Superintendent, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, 10 Organ Pipe Dr., Ajo, AZ 85321; phone (520) 387-6849, ext. 7302.
GEM DescriptionThe national monument preserves the habitat and inhabitants of this section of the Sonoran Desert, in particular its namesake, an immense cactus found primarily in this area.