On our trip in Phoenix visiting my mom and Steve, we decided we wanted to go to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
It was only a little over 2 hours from Phoenix to get here. But once you are in the national monument you are basically in Mexico! The park’s border goes all the way up to the US border with Mexico.
We were really surprised by just how many Organ Pipe Cactuses there were here. They are so huge and some of them were very tall as well.
Jeb and I have seen lots of types of cactuses before, but this was our first time seeing an Organ Pipe Cactus.
The funny story for our visit here was that we read the national park map and it said there was a 40 mile scenic road. We decided to do the drive. Part way through we looked at the additional map we had picked up at the visitor center and saw that is described the 40 mile drive, as a rough 4WD road, only for high clearance vehicles. At this point we were too far along to turn back (plus it was a one way road)! So we did the whole drive in a minivan, with neither high clearance nor 4WD. LOL!
It took 4 hours to drive the 40 miles in the mini van… But we actually had a lot of fun bouncing along and laughing at how ridiculous we must have looked in the minivan. We also got to see a lot of pretty places and views by doing the whole drive.
This Saguaro is so incredibly tall!
This was the road we drove on, but definitely one of the better segments of it. I really love the look of the undisturbed desert, where the cactuses grow so densely close together.
We were hoping to see javelinas or rattle snakes, but unfortunately we didn’t really see a whole lot of wildlife that day. But fortunately it was a really beautiful day with blue skies and almost 70 degrees. Not what we are used to for December! Thank goodness it didn’t rain though, since I’m not sure the minivan could have survived that road if it had been wet!
This picture doesn’t quite do it justice but we really liked how the backlit cactuses seemed to be glowing.
My mom loves the desert so much she hugs cactuses LOL! This cactus, the cholla (“teddy bear”) cactus, is one of my favorites.
Jeb was a little more hesitant about the idea of getting close enough to fake hug the cactus haha.
This area just seemed to go on and on forever, very vast!
There were also some Prickly Pear cactus as well. This reminded me of when Jeb and I went to Saguaro national park and we bought Prickly Pear candy and syrup. It was so tasty!
The scary thing about this park is that it actually has a history of drug smugglers and cartels coming through the land and trying to smuggle drugs through the remote areas of the park. One of the park rangers actually died in the early 2000’s by being shot by members of a drug cartel.
On the way down we drove through a customs and border security checkpoint. We kept joking that on the way back they weren’t going to let me through since my last name used to be Fuentes and I look “too hispanic”. Fortunately we had no problems going through haha.
The only wildlife we saw was some Mexican goats. There were farms on the mexican side of the border, so we think they had come over from there.
This fence here was the Mexican border. It was pretty funny because on the Mexican side there was a major highway. So we could watch cars going by like 60 mph, while we were slowly bouncing along at 10 mph. I kept joking that the roads are just that much better in Mexico than they are here in the states!
Time to take some couples pictures with the Organ Pipe Cactuses!
I was definitely glad we did the extra drive down to see this area, it was really beautiful!
Good idea… lol.
The next day we went to Phoenix and saw the capitol. I figured I would include this one picture in with this post.
Definitely a very different looking area than what we are used to here in Colorado!