Organ Pipe National Monument, located along the Arizona southern border with Mexico, was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1976. It is 517 square miles or 331,000 acres in size. The park is the only place in the United States where the organ pipe cactus grows wild. It is one of the most beautiful and isolated places in the US. It has a thriving community of plants and animals, along with many hiking trails.
I have reserved two adjacent camping areas within the group campground that can accommodate 16 people total and 8 tents at each site. So the limit for this outing is 16. If less people go I will relinquish one of the camping areas. The fee for camping is $5.00 per person, per night. The monument entrance fee is $12.00 per car unless you have a national parks pass. The plan is to spend two nights at the monument, Friday and Saturday night. We will have optional day-hikes of varying lengths and difficulty to choose from on Saturday. We can break-up into several hiking groups if necessary. There is also a visitor center at the monument and several very nice driving tours that are available. Sunday morning we will drive back home. This is the perfect time of year to visit the Sonoran Desert.
We will leave the El Paso/Las Cruces area Friday morning for the approximate 6.5 hour drive to the monument. It is 440 miles from EP and 400 from LC. Please make your own carpooling and/or driving arrangements. I will be leaving EP at 7am from the usual westside meet-up spot at the Starbucks/Kohls parking lot.
Fires are permitted only in the grills within the camp area. Wood gathering is prohibited. The campground has water, restrooms, tables, and grills.
There are two scenic loop roads--the Ajo Mountain Drive, 21 miles, and the Puerto Blanco Drive, 53 miles, that penetrate the desert country. Both are dirt roads. The Ajo Mountain Drive can be negotiated in a passenger car. The Puerto Blanco Drive requires a high clearance vehicle.
Trails include the Bull Pasture, 3 miles, difficult. Estes Canyon, 3 miles, moderate. Desert View, 1.2 miles, easy. These trails are in the Ajo Mountains.
Victoria Mine, 2.2 miles, Red Tanks Tinaja, 5.9 miles, Lost Cabin, 2.2 miles, Milton Mine, 6.2 miles, and Baker Mine, 7.7 miles, are all based on historic roads that connected the mines in the Puerto Blanco Mountains.
The highest peak in the monument is Mt. Ajo at 4,808 ft. There is a primitive unmaintained trail to the summit. It is a strenuous 10 mile round-trip with a 2500 ft. elevation gain.
There will be a new moon the night of the 27th so we will have a dark moonless night for excellent stargazing provided there are no clouds.