The easiest way to see the splendor of the Sonoran Desert is to take a scenic drive through Organ Pipe Cactus. There are several different drives available that range in length from one hour to all day and many hiking trails are accessed using these drives. Most roads across the monument are dirt roads and some require a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle to proceed safely on. View the following list of drives or ask a ranger about the different scenic drives and what kind of vehicles are recommended for each.
Scenic Drives and Roads
The most popular scenic drive in the monument, the Ajo Mountain Drive takes you through an excellent overview of the monument's landscape, bringing visitors through desert washes and up into the Ajo Mountains. For those wanting some good views and photographs of cacti, the drive provides ample opportunities to see large stands of our namesake cacti, the organ pipe, as well as saguaros, cholla and barrel cacti.
North and South Puerto Blanco Drives
The Puerto Blanco Drive loop is aother popular road in the park. The loop is 41 miles (66 kilometers) in length and takes roughly 4 to 5 hours to complete. The road is two-way from the visitor center and accessible to all vehicles up to Pinkley Peak Picnic Area. After Pinkley Peak, the road becomes a one-way high clearance, 4-wheel drive road. Vehicles cannot proceed past Pinkley Peak and turn around; they must finish the entire loop after entering the one-way section. Look for the signs along the road at Pinkley Peak alerting visitors to the change.
The Alamo Canyon road is drivable by all vehicles up to 25 feet. This road provides beautiful views of the saguaro forest as it proceeds to Alamo Canyon Campground, a tent-only primitive campground. The Alamo Canyon trailhead begins at Alamo Canyon Campground.
Bates Well Road
High clearance vehicles are strongly recommended for this rugged road that provides access to the Bates Well ranch site and El Camino de Diablo. It extends for 23 miles from Highway 85 just south of Ajo to the boundary with Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge. Pozo Nuevo Road also connects to Bates Well Road and the drive from Darby Well to Bates Well, to Pozo Nuevo, to South Puerto Blanco Drive makes a fun, rugged excursion.
Pozo Nuevo Road
A high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended for this 14-mile road that connects the Puerto Blanco Drives with Bates Well Road. Pozo Nuevo offers stunning views of the Cipriano Hills, the Growler Valley, and the historic Pozo Nuevo line-camp. This quiet area is a great location to search for the shy Sonoran pronghorn who enjoy the open landscape.
Camino de Dos Republicas
A high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended for this rough 2-mile road off Highway 85 that connects to the old Gachado Line Camp. The road beyond Gachado line camp to Dos Lomitas is closed to the publice. Please read the caution signs at the beginning of this road before proceeding on your adventure.
Biking is a popular way to explore some of the areas in the monument, and biking is allowed on all roads open to vehicle traffic and is allowed in both directions even down one-way roads. Bikes are not permited on any trails; if you are planning to explore the trails by hiking, please carry a way to secure your bicycle if you plan on leaving it for any period of time.
Ajo Mountain Drive
This 21-mile drive is accessed across the highway from the visitor center is a popular biking road because of the ease of access and beauty of the surrounding desert landscape. The road is mostly dirt but does have some paved sections. There are several dips in the road due to crossing washes, and as the road approaches the Ajo Mountain Range is gains elevation, ~500 feet. The Estes Canyon trailhead and picnic area is about halfway through the road and is a popular spot to stop and relax.
North Puerto Blanco Drive
Looking for an all-day excursion? The North Puerto Blanco to South Puerto Blanco loop is 42 miles and many bikers wanting a long distance ride enjoy the challenge of this loop. Parking at Pinkley Peak Picnic area and biking to North Puerto Blanco's trails and sights and returning back to Pinkley Peak is also a great way to see the sights and trails along the road without a high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Twin Peaks Campground to Pinkley Peak Picnic Area
The roads from the visitor center to Twin Peaks Campground and around the campground are fully paved, and North Puerto Blanco Drive from the visitor center to Pinkley Peak is gravel with several short paved sections. The ride from Twin Peaks Campground to Pinkley Peak Picnic Area is ~10 miles one-way and is a fun area for biking in the monument.
Last updated: August 19, 2023