Southern Oregon-ites and Sonoran Organ Pipes

Kitt observatory Credit NAOA/AURA/NSF

We left Saguaro National Park and headed towards Organ Pipe National Monument, traveling South on North Sanderio Rd before merging onto Tuscon Ajo Highway heading West. The road was a bit of a neglected 2 lane, but the views were impressive. I had no idea we were going to be passing Kitt Peak, the home of the Kitt Peak National Observatory! As an astronomy nerd, I was blown away, if it hadn’t been for the approaching weather I would have driven up and attempted a tour. A large rainstorm was bearing down on us and instead of stopping, we opted to barrel through to Gunsight Wash dispersed camping area outside of Organ Pipe National Monument.

Lone Coyote at the gas station in Why

Gunsight Wash is a popular dispersed camping area just outside of Why, Arizona…..don’t ask me why.  There is a maze of dirt paths/roads that wind between the desert vegetation and the gullies, most of which are towing friendly. Someone had set up a bin at the entrance with stuff that people left behind. We had been talking about buying a small camper sized colander for a bit and wouldn’t ya know it, there was one in the bin! The border patrol was prevalent, as were the signs warning about migrants, etc. We thought about relocating due to the sheer amount of campers at Gunsight Wash, but it was a large area and we were tired from the day’s drive. We settled in, did the usual stuff….putting out the solar panel, and generator, unscrambled the egg, and started plotting the next day’s adventures.

Organ Pipe National Monument is named after the Organ Pipe Cactus. The Organ Pipe only grows 2.5 inches per year, but at 80 years old can reach 15 feet in height.

In the morning, Cate, Frankie, and I piled into the truck and and headed South for the short jaunt to Organ Pipe National Monument. We set out to drive the Ajo Mountain Drive, a 2 hour, 21 mile drive through the Sonoran Desert. The dirt road snaked through the desert passing the Creosote plants, Cholla, Jojoba, Mesquite, and Ocotillo. The Sonoran desert is one of the most colorful and vibrant environments you could imagine as a “desert”.

The following day was a “paint day” for Cate, so I left her & the Franks at camp, and struck out for the North Puerto Blanco scenic drive. Unfortunately due to the activity surrounding the “wall” I was unable to complete the entire circuit. I was, however, fortunate enough to witness a rare rainstorm in the Sonoran desert. Everything glowed green. It was exquisite. It wasnt long before I became peckish and figured Cate was as well, so I drove back to camp to pick up the wife and goat to find a grocery in the nearby town of Ajo, a tiny community in southern Arizona. I was completely blown away that this was the location for the film Night of the Lepus! One of my favorite cult classic movies, the plot line centers around mutated, people-eating rabbits ( not people eating rabbits 😜)! There was even a mural commemorating the film, along with several other great murals scattered around town.

We collected our groceries and some firewood before returning to camp for dinner. We tucked in early to prepare for the next day’s drive towards the Kofa Wildlife Refuge.

Stay tuned!

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your photos of this beautiful part of Arizona. I’ve never heard of the Pipe Organ cactus, I will have to look into that and watch out for them next time we are in the area. You got me curious, so I will need to watch Night of the Lepus on Amazon. Sounds like a fun flick. Hope our paths cross some day on the road. Stay safe out there and happy travels. Jim

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