Organ Pipe Cactus:
A Sonoran Desert Treasure
Scenic drives, hiking and camping await adventurers!
Life Abounds in the Sonoran Desert. The sights and sounds of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an International Biosphere Reserve, reveal a thriving community of plants and animals. Human stories echo throughout this desert preserve, chronicling thousands of years of desert living. A scenic drive, wilderness hike or a night of camping will expose you to a living desert that thrives.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument exhibits an extraordinary collection of plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. This is a showcase for creatures who have adapted themselves to the extreme temperatures, intense sunlight, and little rainfall that characterize this Southwest region. Thirty-One species of cactus have mastered living in this place, including the park's namesake and the giant saguaro. The monument is an outstanding natural preserve where one of the of the Earth's major ecosystems survives almost unspoiled. Recognizing its significance, the United Nations in 1976 designated the monument as an International Biosphere Reserve.
The epic skies
No matter if it's day or night, the sky above Organ Pipe is always putting on a show. Pastel sunrises start to creep over the horizon before illuminating the spikes on the saguaro cacti in your campsite. In the evening race up the Desert View Trail to catch the super saturated sun setting over Mexico. Once the sun goes down, gaze at the Milky Way stretching over the park, or go to a night sky program at the amphitheater to see the nebula in Orion's sword.
The trails are gorgeous and empty.
The Sonoran Desert is nicknamed the "green desert" for its lush vegetation. Park trails traverse washes, climb hillsides, and weave through dense forest of cacti. You might see another person...maybe. But for the most part, this wonderland will be all yours.
Peer into Mexico from the Estes Canyon Trail, or check out the Victoria Mine. The views will be worth it.
Twin Peaks Campground sets the standard for park camping. Every site has a great view, the facilities are impeccably clean. The sites have groomed gravel pads for tents and level concrete pads for RVs, which means you don’t have to worry about camping on a slope. While there aren’t any fire rings, there are BBQ stands and picnic tables.
In addition to nice flushing toilets, this campground also had free large showers. However, they are heated with solar power, so plan on taking a shower after the water has had a chance to warm up.
Electric and water hookups are not available. Water spigots are available throughout the campground. There are utility sinks at the restrooms. An RV dump station is nearby.
Quiet Hours are from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Generator use is always prohibited in sites 113 - 208.
Endless Adventure Awaits
Trails near the campground
Victoria Mine Trail 4.2 Miles RT - 100 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail – 3 hours
Traverse the Sonoran Desert to historic mining structures. The Victoria Mine Trail is a gentle traverse of the Sonoran Desert landscape. The trail rambles up and down small hills and across washes. The landscape of saguaro, organ pipe and cholla cactus is otherworldly. Benches provided. No pets.
Desert View Trail (1.2 miles)
Easy loop trail up a hill to beautiful vistas. Ideal at sunrise and sunset. Benches provided. No pets.
Campground Perimeter Trail (1 mile)
Easy walk around the Twin Peaks Campground. Pets allowed.
Visitor Center Nature Trail (0.1 mile/ 0.16 km round trip)
Easy brick path from Visitor Center with exhibits. Pets allowed on leash.
Ranger led interpretive programs, van tours and hiker shuttles
Interpretive programs are offered January through March. Program schedule is printed in the current park newspaper and posted at bulletin boards around the park. Programs may be cancelled due to inclement weather and staff availability. Please check with the Kris Eggle Visitor Center (520)-387-6849 ext. 7302 for more information.
Rangers run programs every day and most evenings, including wildlife talks, night sky demonstrations with powerful telescopes, and chats with Border Patrol agents.
Ajo Mountain Van Tours: Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday
Take the opportunity to spend 3 hours with a ranger on a drive through one of the monument's most beautiful areas. Space is limited to 10 people per day. This program requires advanced reservation and a pre-payment of $5 per rider (payments must be made and boarding passes picked up at the visitor center no later than 8:30am on day of tour). Be sure to call the Kris Eggle Visitor Center a week in advance to reserve your space for a 9:00 am departure. Boarding pass required to board the van.
During the winter season, free hiker shuttles are offered to the Senita Basin and Red Tanks Tinaja Trailhead. From these trails, one can easily walk back to the campground. Reserve a spot on the shuttle by calling the Kris Eggle Visitor Center at (520)- 387-6849 no more than one week in advance.
- Senita Basin Shuttle (4.6 mile walk back to campground): Tuesday, Friday at 8:30am.
- Red Tanks Tinaja (6.7 mile walk back to campground): Monday, Thursday, at 8:30am
Patio Talks: Daily
These 20-minute presentations take place on the back patio of the Kris Eggle Visitor Center at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Subjects and presenters vary.
Evening Programs: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday
End your evening with a 45-60 minute presentation at the Twin Peaks Campground amphitheater at 7:00 pm. Presentations cover a variety of topics, including natural and cultural history. Check bulletin boards for topics. Start time may vary in March due to longer days; check the program schedule for time changes.
Explore the Desert After Dark:
Organ Pipe Cactus comes alive after dark. Join park rangers for full moon hikes and stargazing programs throughout the season. Check the visitor center or bulletin boards for dates and times.
Ajo Mountain Drive (21 Miles)
A popular scenic drive with a great introduction to the diverse landscape. This gravel road is a little bumpy at times but totally passable for a car. However, if you don’t want to chance it with your vehicle, the park operates a free group van tour of the loop from January to March that departs from Twin Peak campground and the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. Ask the campground host or rangers at the visitor center.
Ajo Mountain Drive Trails
- County Road 131 (8 miles/12.8 km one way)
Easy trail that follows the old county road which later became AZ Hwy 85.
- · Arch Canyon Trail (1.2 miles)
There’s an arch! This trail is off of the Ajo Mountain scenic drive and steadily climbs up to the into the canyon with good views of the arch and oak-juniper environment.
- Bull Pasture (3 miles/ 5 km round trip)
Difficult trail with steep grade and exposed cliffs. Spectacular views of Mexico and the monument. Can be done as a loop with Estes Canyon Trail.
- Estes Canyon (3 miles/ 5 km round trip)
Moderate trail and is great for birding. Trail crosses several washes and is relatively flat until the switchback climb to the Bull Pasture trail.
With its rich tradition as a former copper mining hub, Ajo is a casual town with relaxed charm. Take in the historic Spanish Colonial Revival architecture and step back in time at the Historic Plaza and railway Depot.
Formerly one of the largest copper mines in the world, the New Cornelia pit is over a mile wide. Visit the mine lookout for history displays and a view of the turquoise hued lake at the bottom of the pit.
Appreciate the cultural richness created by the proximity of Mexico and the Tohono O’odham Nation. View the work of Ajo’s growing artist community.
International Travel into Mexico
Due to the location of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, many visitors plan on traveling into Mexico. A port of entry exists in the town of Lukeville, AZ, five miles south of the Kris Eggle Visitor Center.
Before traveling internationally, there are a few key things to remember:
- Mexican law requires you to have Mexican auto insurance
- U.S. auto insurance is not valid in Mexico
- The nearest locations to purchase Mexican auto insurance are in Lukeville and Ajo AZ.
- Most rental car companies do not permit their vehicles to enter Mexico
- The Port of Entry at Lukeville currently closes from 12am-6am
- A valid passport is required for re-entry into the United States
For additional and more up-to-date information, please contact United States Customs and Immigration personnel at the international border in Lukeville.
Registration options include: Tents and RV’s. Tent and RV occupancy is limited to six people and two vehicles. Tents must be on the designated tent pad within the campsite. RVs and Tents will not be sharing a site. Electric and water hookup are not available and generator use is not permitted in the sites we have reserved. See Book your own site below for reserving a site with limited generator use.
Registration is available to Great Outdoors members only. You may join and purchase a membership - Click Here For Membership - which will then allow you to register.
Registration options – Signing up: After you select your registration type, you can scroll down and add additional information such as RV size, carpooling, etc.
Book your own site if you wish to use a generator during limited hours. These sites are away from our reserved RV and tent sites. Generators are permitted in campsites #1-#112 from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. daily.
An entrance fee is charged for visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Please pay in person at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center, or at one of the self- registration stations along the scenic drives. All federal lands passes are issued and accepted at Organ Pipe Cactus. Vehicles: $25 (Good for 7 days). This fee includes all occupants of a vehicle.
Cell Service – Yes! Great cell service for AT&T, unknown for other carriers
Pets Policy – Pets must be on a maximum 6-foot leash at all times. Pets are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, roads and certain trails. Do not leave pets unattended in your campsites. Ensure that pets have access to a water source. Pets should be restricted to approved trails and developed areas due to potentially harm to desert plants and cactus.
What to Bring: Ten Essentials, camping/cooking gear, camp chair, food, warm/cool weather clothing, ear plugs for sleeping. Bring potluck item and an appetizer for ‘tea’ along with your favorite beverage. Ground fires are prohibited. We will have a group propane fire pit. Consider bringing a propane tank for the fire pit. Also consider going green! - Please bring your own plates, cups, mugs, eating utensils, napkins, paper towels, camp soap, etc. There is a utility sink located in the nearby restroom for washing dishes.
Address and directions: 10 Organ Pipe Drive, Ajo, AZ 85321
- · From the North: Follow Arizona Hwy. 85 through Ajo and Why, Arizona.
The monument entrance is four miles south of Why. The Kris Eggle Visitor Center is 22 miles south of Why. The Kris Eggle Visitor Center is located on the West side of Hwy. 85 between mile marker 75 and 76.
- · From the East (Tucson): take Arizona Hwy. 86 to Why, then turn left on Arizona Hwy. 85, heading south.
- · From the West (Yuma): follow I-8 to Gila Bend or I-10 to Buckeye, then turn south on Arizona Hwy. 85.
- · From the South (Sonoyta, Mexico): travel north towards Lukeville, AZ on Mexico Rt. 2. The Kris Eggle Visitor Center is five miles north of Lukeville on Hwy. 85.
Weather: Average temps: 78° - 46°. Current Weather: Click Here
Contact the Visitor Center, the gatehouse, or a camp host in (site 41 or 120) or call (520) 387-6847 during business hours to report an emergency. After hours call 911.
Contact Trip Leader Menard Jaramillo: Email click here: Cell: 323-804-4700
Schedule of Events: Check white board at camp for updates and details
· 1:00 pm Check-in at the gate. If no ranger, proceed to your assigned campsite.
· 6:00 pm Meet and greet ‘tea’. Bring a beverage and appetizer to share.
· Dinner on your own.
· 6:30 am Coffee and continental breakfast
· 9:00 am Hike and/or exploration TBD
· 6:30 pm Potluck and Group campfire activities
· 6:30 am Coffee and continental breakfast
· 9:00 am Day excursion to historic Ajo and mine
· 9:00 pm Alternate Hike or scenic drive
· 6:30 pm Dinner on your own. Group campfire activities
· 6:30 am Coffee and continental breakfast
· 11:00 pm Check out
Cancellation Policy: Cancellations for a full refund must be received by February 27, 2020.
Photos of Area - click here
Health Problems/allergies: It is the responsibility of participants to carry on their person a record of significant allergies, medications and medical history in the event of a medical emergency. Discuss any medical concerns with the trip/hike leader if you wish.
Park Website: https://www.nps.gov/orpi/index.htm