A Quick Weekend at Organ Pipe

By Forrest Smith - Drempd.com

It was supposed to be raining on the Southern California coast, and pretty cold in Joshua Tree and other desert locales in southern California. I also couldn’t find too much in the way of campsites to reserve, but we had a three day weekend and we were determined to use it.

A while ago, I had noted Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument as a place to check out someday. I figured it would still be several years from now – it’s kind of out-of-the-way, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about driving five or six hours to look at cacti. But, since we needed a place to go to, and it had a pretty nice weather forecast compared to options closer to home, and I could actually get a campground reservation, it seemed like a fantastic option.

Cactus in Organ Pipe National Monument

I was happy with the campground – I was a little nervous looking at it on the map, since it’s a fairly rigid, regular arrangement, but a lot of the campsites were pretty nice and well-spaced from one another. Our site had a few small trees for privacy, and it seemed clean and well-maintained. And the cacti were pretty nice too. Actually the landscape didn’t seem too brown and desolate, which is my usual view of deserts. The Saguaros and Organ Pipe Cacti, along with other plant varieties gave the place a nice green covering that I wasn’t fully expecting. It’s still the desert, but it seemed a bit greener than other deserts I frequent. It could be due to the fact that it’s been pretty wet here in the southwest this year, but I kind of think it’s due to the larger cactus varieties.

Both Saturday and Sunday mornings I was able to go on a blissful trail run through the desert landscape. One of the main reasons I go camping is to get in nice runs through wild landscape – and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. The whole weekend was all just mostly good family time – listening to the park ranger talk at the campground amphitheater, throwing the football around with our little one, helping him work towards his junior ranger badge (which he was very excited about).

There is quite a bit more to explore in the area – a few rides to the south of Ajo, a wildlife refuge, and more of the Monument to check out. I wanted to hang out in the town of Ajo more than we did – we came through on a Sunday when everything was closed, but they have a nice little town square with a coffee shop and Mexican restaurant that would be fun to explore. I see us returning again in a year or two to keep exploring the area.