The Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is adjacent to the Mexican border south of Gila Bend, AJO, and Why, AZ. To get there from Gila Bend you pass thru the range areas of the Barry Goldwater Air Force Base. You may get to see a demonstration of air attacks on ground targets, as we did, including high speed passes and bomb strikes with accompanying smoke. It was very interesting but a bit distracting while driving on a two lane highway at the posted speed of 65.
This monument is to preserve portions of the Sonoran desert that holds some unique cactus forms and conditions for growth. This is truly an area that can be referred to as a cactus forest. It is a very large site that goes beyond the simple description of a monument. It contains mountain and desert environments, has vehicle traffic tours of 21 and 53 mile routes along with large numbers of walking and hiking trials.
We did the 21 mile route (Ajo Drive) and wished for a four wheel drive vehicle, but the bouncing and dust was well worth the view. The park is named for the Cactus that grows only in this area-the Pipe Organ Cactus, with some imagination it does look like an organ pipe stand.
For those interested in camping, they have a very nice campground near the visitor center with limited facilities, but in a truly wonderful location.
We will be underway again tomorrow, planning brief stop over in Casa Grande, AZ to visit the Casa Grande National Monument located nearby.