It’s no surprise that the Ajo Mountain Drive is the most popular scenic drive in the monument. In two hours, it 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 cacti, as well as saguaros, cholla, and barrel cacti.
The Ajo Mountain Drive is a 21-mile (34 km) graded, one-way dirt road. The drive takes approximately 2 hours, and has been designed so that a passenger car, driven with caution, may be taken over it safely. Trailers, buses and RVs over 25 ft (8 m) are prohibited on the drive. After the first mile, the drive becomes a one-way road, so be prepared to finish the entire 21 mile loop!
A free Ajo Mountain Drive guide can be picked up at the visitor center. Numbered stops located along the drive correspond to pages in the guide. You can also follow along with the audio tour/written guide on the NPS App or download a PDF version of the guide here.
There are four picnic sites provided on the drive. Stops #6 has a shaded picnic area and Estes Canyon after stop #11 has a ramada and backcountry restrooms. The Ajo Mountain Drive also provides access to the trailheads for the Arch Canyon, Old Pima County Road, and Estes Canyon/Bull Pasture trails.
Water is not available anywhere along the drive so carry plenty with you. Fires and camping are not allowed on the drive. Pets are not allowed on trails or in the backcountry. They must be leashed at all times. Please do leave pets unattended. Do not cross washes when flooded. Do not pick up hitchhikers. Report any suspicious activity to park staff immediately. Do not contact any suspicious persons. If you see them in distress, contact a ranger for help.