Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the many questions asked by visitors to Organ Pipe Cactus. Many of the answers can be found in other places on the website as well. Can't find your answer? Click here to Contact Us!!
I only have two hours here. What can I do?
The Kris Eggle Visitor Center is a wonderful place to begin your visit. There are interactive exhibits, a 15-minute informative slide show, a book shop to browse through, and a short accessible nature trail to hike. A good way to explore a little of the Sonoran Desert is to drive the two- way section of the North Puerto Blanco scenic drive to the Pinkley Peak Picnic Area. This drive offers many opportunities to learn about and discover the beauty of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. You also may want to experience some of the hikes, such as the Desert View Nature trail or the Victoria Mine trail.
What is there to do in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument during the summer?
Because of the extremely hot summer temperatures we don't recommend hiking. However, summer is a great time to be in Organ Pipe and there is a lot more that you can do! Pack a picnic lunch and your camera, and do our scenic drives. There are several picnic stops along each of them and the photo opportunities are endless. Many times during the monsoon season of late July through September, you might be lucky enough to catch some dramatic cloudscapes over the desert. Most species of desert wildlife are active only during the early mornings and again in the evenings in the summer to beat the heat, so for the best chance to see them, try to time your activities accordingly. Plan on rising early, taking a siesta in the afternoon, and enjoying the cool of the evening.
What about the winter?
The winter and spring are the "busy season" around here. If it's been a wet winter, you expect to see lots of wildflowers adding splashes of color to the landscape. Ranger programs are offered daily, from guided tours of the Ajo Mountain scenic drive to evening programs in the campground amphitheater. The weather is much cooler, but there's no snow or frost. Both organ pipe and saguaro cacti need the heat to survive. Organ Pipe Cactus NM is a birders, photographers, and hikers paradise. Try RV or car camping in either of our two campgrounds.
Is the campground full? Do I need to make reservations?
Reservations are not accepted for camping. The good news is- Twin Peaks Campground has not filled up once in the last 10 years. You can register either at the campground or at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. Alamo Canyon Primitive Campground does fill up in the winter months, and is self-registration at the campground.
Can I have fires in the campgrounds?
Ground fires are not allowed in the campgrounds or in the backcountry. Desert plants have very shallow root systems, so any ground fire can harm the sensitive roots beneath. Charcoal and wood fires are allowed in the raised metal grills which are provided at each campsite. You cannot gather wood in the monument. Wood can be purchased in Ajo, AZ.
What are the differences between the two scenic drives, the Ajo Mountain and the Puerto Blanco Drive?
The main difference between the two roads is length. The Puerto Blanco Drive is a four hour, 41 mile loop that connects the North and South sections of the Puerto Blanco Drive, and includes Quitobaquito Springs. The Ajo Mountain Drive is 2.5 hour, 21-mile one-way gravel road with several picnic areas and hiking trails. If you decide to do the Ajo Mountain drive, be sure to stop by the Kris Eggle Visitor Center and pick up a guidebook for the road. Both drives offer unlimited opportunities for solitude, adventure, peacefulness, and exploration.
Aren't the organ pipe cactus and the saguaro cactus the same thing?
No, the two plants are completely different species. Both of them are columnar cacti with similar ecology. for more information, visit our desert plants page.