Exploring The Wilderness
The Sonoran Desert is amazingly beautiful and a pleasure to explore! Every mountain, every wash, every canyon has unique beauty to explore. The desert provides ample opportunity for endless adventures in its wilderness. Help preserve your natural lands by Recreating Responsibly and following the principles of Leave No Trace.
The permit is $5.00 regardless of number of people, and there is no Senior or Access discount on the permit fee.
Always be aware of your surroundings and do not leave your belongings unattended. When you leave your vehicle, secure your valuables (including food and water) out of sight.
Backcountry Zone Information
Organ Pipe Cactus provides a unique experience for backpacking! Instead of the traditional method of selecting a set of trails and backcountry camping areas, Organ Pipe Cactus has zones which visitors may explore freely. Each zone has its own beauty and adventures for backpackers to enjoy! Learn more about what each zone has to offer!
Tillotson Peak West: Zone 140A
A great place to camp for peak baggers, this zone is located near Mount Tillotson which makes for a great day hike and challenging climb to the top. This area also contains the small Chuckwalla Mountains which are a great place to explore for reptiles.
Parking for this zone is located along Highway 85 or the Ajo Mountain Drive.
Tillotson Peak West (Ajo Mountain Drive): Zone 140B
This zone is located along the Ajo Mountain Drive loop around the inner boundaries of the loop. A good portion of this zone is located in the flatland basin area of the drive, great for easy cross country traveling other areas nearby, including Mount Tillotson.
Parking for this zone is located along the Ajo Mountain Drive.
Diablo Canyon: Zone 160
There are beautiful mountains to explore and strands of organ pipe cacti to be found in this area! The terrain here is mountainous and the Arch Canyon and Estes Canyon/Bull Pasture trailheads and picnic areas are located nearby.
Sweetwater Pass: Zone 170
This zone begins southeast of the Ajo Mountain Drive and provides easy access into the high mountainous terrain of the area, including Sweetwater Pass and Díaz Peak and Spire.
Ajo Valley North: Zone 300
This zone is in the flatland basin area of the monument. Washes abound in this area, providing easy cross country routes and areas to explore. Directing east is Montezuma's Head along the northern tip of the Ajo Mountain Range.
Ajo Valley South: Zone 310
This zone is in the flatland basin area of the monument providing easy cross country routes to Pinkley Peak, a popular mountain to climb in the monument. This zone is also makes a great place to stay if wanting to do a longer day hike to Tillotson Peak.
Bates Mountains: Zone 320
Located in the northwest corner of the monument, the Bates Mountain Range is where the volcanic rock of Kino Peak towers above the desert. Large mountains and canyons abound in this area, great for adventurers who'd like a more challenging wilderness hike.
Growler Wash: Zone 400
This zone is located along the northern portion of the Bates Well Road and provides access into the northernmost reaches of the monument. Mountains and organ pipe abound in this area, and washes hide secrets you'll have to discover for yourself. This is a great area for wildlife spotting, including the elusive Sonoran pronghorn in its flatland areas.
Cristobal Wash: Zone 410
This zone is located south of Bates Well Road and west of Pozo Nuevo Road. This secluded area is in a basin area between mountains and makes a great area for wildlife spotting. This is a fantastic area to spot the shy Sonoran pronghorn because of its location away from people and the open space the flatlands provide.
Last updated: June 11, 2023