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“Wonderful place!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Ajo, AZ
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Ranked #1 of 6 things to do in Ajo
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Viewing wildlife, Driving, Hiking, Camping
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Attraction details
Owner description: Home to a beautiful display of desert vegetation, including the Organ Pipe cactus.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Wonderful place!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2013

We love the National Park system and are glad we checked out this out-of-the-way gem! Scenic drives, nice hikes. Amazing cacti. We recommend seeing the film in the visitor's center. Fun to see the Mexican border just down the road.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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175 reviews from our community

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Southport, NC
Top Contributor
124 reviews 124 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 80 cities Reviews in 80 cities
48 helpful votes 48 helpful votes
“Out of the way but worth it,”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2013

We are on a trip visiting National Park sites. This was a very interesting site. It was very remote but so interesting.

Visited August 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Rosa, California
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Fabulous Place, but the Border Patrol Stinks”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 4, 2013

I highly recommend visiting this national monument at any time of the year, even in July and August, which was when we visited in 1992 and again in 2013. The best views of natural cactus gardens can be found here, and there is good wildlife viewing in the morning and at night. Please be advised, however, that long hikes should not be attempted in the heat of the day, and large amounts of water are important during any hike in this desert. Here is the thing though -- the Border Patrol has a bigger presence in the park than our beloved Park Service does. It has essentially become a militarized zone. Two of us were recently at the park and we were searching for wildlife at night, stopping frequently along the road to view various critters as they scampered, hopped or slithered along the road. Apparently our activity caught the attention of the Border Patrol. When we were driving back down Alamo Canyon Road we suddenly heard a very loud sound that I first thought was the roar of a motorcycle on our tail. We quickly realized that it was the Border Patrol buzzing us with one of their helicopters, swooping down it seemed, within about 25 feet of our vehicle, kicking up a large dust cloud and shining its bright floodlights on our vehicle. And then, just as quickly as they swooped down on us, they flew away. It is certainly not the kind of experience I have ever had in a national park, and it was disconcerting to think that my government is wasting money on this foolishness. If they wanted to check us out they could have sent one of their NUMEROUS Border Patrol trucks or vans to stop and question us along the road. Instead they send a helicopter? The Border Patrol did stop us when we got to the checkpoint right outside of the park. They asked us lot of questions, which we answered dutifully. I had to laugh, though, when they asked what we had in our small cooler in the back of the truck. Did they think we were hiding an undocumented immigrant? Now that I think about it, perhaps we could have fit an infant in that small cooler, but any infant would not have been able to breathe. Strangely, the officer then asked us about poaching wildlife. We assured him that poaching wildlife was something we would certainly never do, as we are conservationists. Not sure why a Border Patrol guy was asking us about animals, but I guess they feel entitled to ask whatever they want to. Well, in spite of the Border Patrol, we still had a great time, but my fondest wish at this point, having seen thousands of border patrol trucks and vans all over the region, would be for the elimination of funding for the Border Patrol, with all of those billions of dollars sent over to the Park Service.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Pensacola, Florida
Top Contributor
109 reviews 109 reviews
35 attraction reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 26, 2013

Yes, I was nervous visiting beforehand, but once we got there, I felt a whole lot better. We never felt unsafe, even after being flagged down on Ajo Mountain Drive by, shall we say, not the typical park visitor (make sure you save the park number in your phone so you can report stuff like that if you have reception). The desert is spectacular here, and although it was way too hot (105+) to do any hiking, the drive gives a wonderful introduction to the desert, and some amazing mountain views. We only saw one other car the entire time and one of the rangers told us the day before, there'd only been 4 people stopping in at the visitor center. If you like quiet, this is is. Ajo Mountain Drive is unpaved, but we did it in a rental crossover...you do not need a 4X4 and I've done rougher roads through parks in a sedan.

We have an interagency pass, which we didn't need to use, because the fee was suspended for the month of July. Definitely fill up your gas tank and bring a few gallons of extra water.

Border Patrol checkpoints are kind of obnoxious and they don't seem to realize there is a national park right there and not everyone is coming from Mexico.

Visited July 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, TX
Top Contributor
241 reviews 241 reviews
85 attraction reviews
Reviews in 107 cities Reviews in 107 cities
315 helpful votes 315 helpful votes
“Like a whole other world”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 15, 2013

The eponymous national monument is home to an abundance of this rather unique specimen of cactus. Not only does organ pipe cactus resemble the pipes of a church organ, but you won't even find so much as one specimen 4 hours away in Tucson. The climate and other factors in this particular corner of Arizona are such that the cactus only thrives here. Perhaps due to its extremely remote location, there are not many visitors to OPCNM. The highlight of the monument is the 21-mile Ajo Mountain Drive. Heed caution that this is a very dusty and bone-jarring road. Coupled with the fact that the majority of it is one-way, it's hard for me to justify taking this road more than once on the same visit to the park. If you are on this road and you see something that interests you, by all means stop and take it all in. Because chances are you won't have the desire to tackle this road if you passed it up and want to backtrack. If you are on this road, I encourage you to get out and hike the trail to bull pasture. Though the trail is 1.5 mile oneway, you don't actually need to hike the entire distance to see the bull. There is a great vantage point of the bull from what seems to be the rim of a valley that separates you from the bull. It's about 20 minutes from the start of the trail. I recommend camping at Twin Peaks campground. In April there were only a handful of other campers. With the lack of light pollution, it's a great place to gaze at the stars. Potable water and solar showers are available. Be warned that because they are solar showers, you will get scalded. And no the water does not get cooler as you let it run.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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