Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few of the many questions asked by visitors to ORPI. 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 the 5-mile two-way North Puerto Blanco scenic drive. 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.
What are the differences between the two scenic drives, the Ajo Mountain and the North Puerto Blanco?
The main difference between the two roads is length. The North Puerto Blanco is a 5-mile two-way gravel road with interpretive signs along the way, Ajo Mountain is 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.
Did You Know?
Most of the year this night-blooming cereus cactus looks like ugly brown sticks, but for one night only the flower opens and smells like a rose. To see one bloom is one of the greatest treats in the Sonoran Desert