SPECIAL REPORT • The West’s untapped treasures
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Ajo, AZ
In the spring, a visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southwestern Arizona provides a tonic for the senses. Clusters of tall green cactus – they really do look like parts of a pipe organ – cover broad hills that form a rocky pillow at the base of volcanic mountains. Being able to look across 517 square miles of the Sonoran Desert and see virtually no sign of human intrusion is a refreshing bonus.
Organ Pipe is quintessential Sonoran Desert terrain, a landscape of cactus and creosote bush interspersed with jagged mountains and laced with thickets of mesquite, ironwood, and palo verde trees. Most of the organ pipe cactus in the United States are found within the monument’s borders.
Animals and plants are easily viewed from two scenic loop roads. Both are winding and slightly hilly, unpaved but well graded. Ordinary cars do fine, but both roads are unsuitable for motorhomes over 25 feet long.