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 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 (the single US highway into the park continues directly into Mexico).
Flora and fauna
Though named for the Organ Pipe Cactus - the park ironically has far more Saguaro cactus than those of the Organ Pipe variety - and again ironically - in far higher concentrations than say - Saguaro Cactus National Park, also of Arizona. In essence, the park is a relatively lush and untouched American SW desert environment, with a far higher concentration of cacti and other desert plants than perhaps anywhere else in the American SW - with a decent and best in US, but not exactly overwhelming (this is the N. end of its range), 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 hiking are the only options for getting around.
There is no lodging in the monument. Ajo and other smaller towns are with 30 minutes of the park.
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.