Sunday, February 15, 2009

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

South of Ajo, right on the Mexican border, is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. A lot of the roads in the park are closed because of illegal alien activity, but Ajo Mountain Drive is a 21-mile loop that is open. Most of it is unpaved, but an easy drive.

At first, all you see are thousands of saguaros. It seems there are more here than in Saguaro National Park.

After a while, the scenery changes to a mixture of saguaros and organ pipes.

A couple years ago I found this crested saguaro north of Phoenix. These misshapen cacti happen when the growing tip becomes a fan-like form. It is unknown whether this is a genetic mutation, or the result of a lightning strike or freeze damage.

But I never knew that organ pipes also had this anomoly. We found 2, with the help of the guide at the visitors center.

This one actually had three on the same cactus.

Arches are rare in the park, but here's a beautiful 90-foot wide one in Arch Canyon, with a tiny one above. A hike goes up into the canyon.

The poppies were just starting to bloom.

As were these little pink flowers.

And these, called Fairy Dusters.


  1. One of my favorite places.

    Thanks for the photos.

  2. "Illegal alien activity".......have the Martians landed?

  3. I always enjoy your photos and these are no exception. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for outstanding photos. Are these with your new camera? The unusual growth form is very beautiful and something to watch for in future. Lucky you to see poppies in February!

  5. I really like the little pink ones - I wonder what they are. And crested organ pipe cactus, how interesting.

  6. And some people never see the beauty in the Desert!! Thanks!!

    Illegal Aliens in our beautiful National Parks!! Where's all the concerned Americans trying to keep them out?

  7. The cresting or 'fasciation' can occur on over 100 plants. It can also be seen on the cordon, a close relative to the saguaro, in Mexico.


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