Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Earth : North America : United States of America : Southwest (United States of America) : Arizona : Western Arizona : Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
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 general 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.
As the monument is on the U.S.-Mexico border, the more backcountry portions of the park are currently closed due to concerns over illegal cross-border activities.
Flora and fauna
Though named for the Organ Pipe Cactus - the park ironically has far more Saguaro cactus, and again - ironically - in far higher concentrations than Saguaro Cactus National Park. In essence, the park is a relatively untouched American SW desert environment, with a far higher concentration of cacti and other desert plants than most anywhere else in the SW - with a decent, but not overwhelming, number of Organ Pipe Cacti interspersed.
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.
$8 per vehicle for a 7-day pass.
There is no public transit in the monument. Private vehicles or bikes are the only options to get around the monument.
There is no lodging in the monument.
Due to border security concerns, the backcountry is closed indefinitely.
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.