Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is not a place you stop in as you drive by on the interstate.  Oh, no!  You have to make a definite decision to go there.  It is about as far off the beaten path as you can get.  It is on state highway 85 and it dead ends at Lukeville, on the Mexican border.

I made a special trip down there to drive the Puerto Blanco Drive loop.  It is 42 miles of rough road looping around the Puerto Blanco Mountains and La Abra Plain.

The 18 mile drive from Ajo, down hwy 85 is beautiful.  The Ajo Mountain Range strings along the East side of the road while the Valley of the Ajo is on the West side.





with Bates Mountains way off in the distance.



The reason I made this special trip was because last year, Dolly, Fergie, Yuma and I started down this road, but about 10 miles in, we ran into two suspicious acting guys in a car that passed us.  They pulled ahead of us and stopped; then backed up towards us and stopped.  Then they went about quarter mile and stopped again.  We had waited, hoping they would just go on, but they didn’t.  As we approached, we stayed further back, but they started backing up again and stopped short of us.

The last straw was when they went about a half mile up in the mountains and stopped.  We had stayed back.  One of the men got out of the car and walked into the desert and the car went on.

This is a one way road that one cannot easily pass on.  Our “this does not feel right” flags were at full staff.  We made the decision to turn around and go back the wrong way on the one way road.  This is a remote area, so we were lucky and did not meet anyone coming towards us the entire way back.

Well, this year, Yuma and I were determined to drive those 42 miles of bad road.  This loop was closed for many years, because a Park Ranger was killed.


I’ll be candid.  The views from this road were not spectacular.  It was not worth the 42 miles of bumpy and jolting ride Yuma and I endured.  I would highly recommend the Ajo Mountain Loop that is East of the Visitor Center.  Much shorter and more beautiful.

With that said, here are some of the photos taken of Puerto Blanco Mountains as we drove through.  It is a partly cloudy day, so some photos are in full daylight, while others are in shaded light.

I took many more, but these will give you an idea of what the countryside looked like.  Some photos will be of the same mountain in the range as we circle around.

Couple examples of the Organ Pipe Cactus.




You can see why it is difficult to pass.








This is definitely remote country.  Just this road.  Horseback or walk are the two choices, if you leave this road.










Stopped at Bonita Well.  Had an old run down corral too.  Yuma almost got locked in.



As we circled around, going North, then West and finally South, ending up right on the Mexican border.  Here is Obama’s wall.  I’m sure it will soon be much more impressive once Trump takes office.

1-IMG_20170110_144911122  1-IMG_20170110_144904481

There is a truck driving by on a nice highway in Mexico and here I am on a dusty, bumpy rough road.  Maybe, we don’t have it better than the Mexicans.


Another reason, I came back was to see this pond named Quitobaquito in the Quitobaquito Hills on the Mexican border.  As you can, there is a difference.

January 2017 – No hanging tree across the pond


January 2016 – Tree hanging out across the pond


With age and probably kids climbing out on it, it just fell in the pond this past year.

Ah, finally back home at camp.  Took me five hours to make this short road trip.  Walked another four plus miles too.


Sunrays just topping the mountains to the East with the Moon rising.


See you later.


  1. That is a wonderful area we did the east loop last year and enjoyed it. Thanks for the pictures.

    1. You're welcome. It was a long and tiring day, even though most of it was in the Jeep.

  2. I think we'll forego that long 42 miles of bumpy road down there near Mexicoland. We've noticed similar border fencing down near Douglas Arizona and there's not enough fence there to stop a baloney sandwich from walking across.

    1. I'm sure Trump will fix that. Heh, heh.

      Forgot to charge my battery in my Canon, so most of the photos were taken by my cell phone. Need to get a back-up battery or remember to charge the one I have when going on long excursions.

  3. Quitobaquito Springs just doesn't look the same without the old cottonwood tree. It was removed because of environmental concerns. Very sad. Wonderful pictures of the area. It must have been one bumpy ride!

    1. Thanks for reminding me that it was taken down and did not fall in the pond. I have a photo of the remains, behind the pond, but didn't post, because it would hurt your feelings. I know you loved that tree.

  4. Boy that's a scary story about your first attempt to drive the road. Thanks for letting us all know we should just skip the 42 miles and do the one on the east. Your pictures are wonderful. I feel like I've already been there.

    1. Thank you Sherry. Hope you are enjoying Florida. I lived and worked in Winterhaven, so I am familiar with central Florida.

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you, Dolly. It is my favorite. Glad I happened to turn around and see it. The chance to get the photo didn't last long.