From our weathered-softened peaks, you can see our fiery younger sister park to the south, El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar, located in the Mexican state of Sonora. Like many sisters, Organ Pipe Cactus and Pinacate share a family resemblance--but with some dramatic differences.
Traveling from Organ Pipe to Pinacate you enter a surreal landscape. Familiar saguaro and ocotillo rise from a bed of crunchy black cinders, stand guard on the edge of huge volcanic craters, and cast purple shadows on glowing sunset-lit dunes.
Each park takes its name from a native Sonoran desert species, organ pipe cactus and Pinacate beetle. Desert bighorn sheep, black-tailed jackrabbits, gila monsters, and the endangered Sonoran pronghorn live amid the sand, cinders, and playas of Pinacate as well as the bajadas, tinajas, and desert pavement of Organ Pipe.
The moonscape of cinder cones and sand dune is softened by the typical Sonoran desert vegetation. Cacti like saguaro, organ pipe, barrel, and senita share the skyline with ocotillo and mesquite.In the spring, multicolored wildflowers cover the desert floor and nestle between lava rocks.
Both El Pinacate y Gran Desierto Altar and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument have been designated as International Biosphere Reserves. The staffs of both parks cooperate on many projects to protect the unique resources that exemplify this unique Sonoran desert landscape.
The staffs of Pinacate and Organ Pipe Cactus keep a close watch on the graceful little Sonoran pronghorn. An aerial census is conducted every two years to monitor the numbers of this endangered species.
Many United States National Park Service sites have sister park relationships in other countries. The staff of each sister park pair work and learn together to better protect their respective natural and cultural heritage for the people of their own nations and the world.
Last updated: March 16, 2021