|Teddy bear cholla flowers|
|"Crested" organ pipe cactus|
|It's a flower.|
|This saguaro's Easter bonnet was about 25 feet off the ground.|
|Saguaro clowning around.|
We thought our campsite was spectacular with just ten species of cacti. Organ Pipe National Monument is shut-my-mouth breathtaking.
|Cactus wren, I think. Arizona state bird.|
|Mexico in the distance|
The 21-mile Ajo Mountain Loop is a big deal here, and it deserves to be. You can do this loop very well in the family car although you'll be even happier in something high-clearance. Some parts of the road are narrow, but it's one-way traffic so you don't have to worry about passing someone. Annie started counting the times I said STOP! but then quit when she came to the end of numbers. You'll go through several distinct habitats, and you'll notice the flora changing. The park provides a self-guided tour through the loop, and also a short guided walking tour near the Visitor's Center.
There are two trail hiking opportunities within the loop; one looks pretty easy, and the other is more strenuous. We're thinking we'd like to try the lazypants trail in two days when the temperature goes back to the 70's. How else are we supposed to see a Gila monster?
"Gila Monsters are one of only two species of venomous lizards found in North America. You can find them in the late spring through early autumn at ORPI. They move really slow, and you have to try pretty hard to get bit. We don't recommend it. It hurts, and they don't let go."
The eastern edge of the park is an impressive mountain range. The other side of that range is Tohono O'odham nation land.
The park fee is $8 for up to seven days in a vehicle. You can also boondock in the campground for $12/night. Dump station and drinkable water available there. Or, boondock for free on stunning BLM land nearby. This park is where we bought our America the Beautiful annual pass.
You'll like this place SO MUCH MORE than you like these pictures, and Monument download time is faster. I promise you'll say "Wow!" at least three times. That is my "three Wow guarantee."