Arizonans aren’t kidding when they say they take their cactus seriously. Arizona is the only state in the U.S. that protects it’s cactus both in a national park (Sauguro National Park) and a national monument (Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument).
Since we visited the Saguaro National Park earlier this winter we thought we would take in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument too. After all we were going to be near the monument on our way to Yuma to see some friends.
While both the national park and the national monument preserve the Sonoran Desert, cactus found in the national park are primarily the Saguaro cactus. Cactus found in the monument are a rare kind known as the organ pipe cactus.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is the only place in the United States where the organ pipe cactus grows wild. The cactus is much more common in Mexico which borders the monument. The organ pipe cactus differs from the saguaro cactus by having thinner stems branching mainly from the base of the cactus instead of from higher up the cactus trunk.
In 1976, the monument was declared an International Biosphere Reserve recognizing the diversity of the area because of the plants, cacti and animals that live there.
While I am not a desert person nor a cactus person, I must say that Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was a very peaceful and quiet place. There weren’t many folks around when we were there. Plenty of folks visit Saguaro National Park, far fewer venture to the remote outpost of Organ Pipe. A visit to this remote area is a must if you like a little peace and quiet and love to take photographs. The area does offer hiking trails and a driving loop.
Open daily 8 – 5
$12 / vehicle