In the beginning of March, we were in Arizona already, and this National Park site was not too far from the FamCamp where we were staying, so we decided to check it out. The entrance fee was $12, which was good for a seven day period.
We decided to camp inside Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The rate was $16 per night, but with the Access pass it was discounted to $8 per night. There were no hookups available, but each site had a barbeque grill and a picnic table. Some sites had shade ramadas. The sites were rather close together, but we had adequate room, and anyway we were really only at the campsite to eat and sleep. There were RV rows where generators are allowed, RV rows where generators were NOT allowed, and tent rows, with the no-generator RV rows acting as a buffer between the tent sites and the generator sites. We chose a site in the no-generator section as close to the tent rows (and thus furthest from the generator rows) as possible. We had a solar panel rather than a generator, and wanted to minimize noise. There were comfort stations with flush toilets and solar-heated showers. I was also very excited to see a book exchange near the entrance to the campground. I got rid of some books we were done with and picked out a couple of new ones.
We felt that camping in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was a good value because the amphitheater where evening programs are held is adjacent to the campground. Had we camped outside the park on BLM land, I doubt we would have had time to come back into the park for evening programs after returning to our campsite to cook supper, and the evening programs were well worth our while. Topics ranged from night-blooming cacti and the bats and moths that pollinate them, to identifying animal tracks, to the Native American stories behind the stars and constellations. The evening programs at this park were the best we’ve attended in any park so far.
The children, big and small, enjoyed completing the junior Ranger program and earning a badge. They also particularly enjoyed going on a Ranger-led hike to Red Rocks Tinaja. We were the only family with children on this hike, but the ranger was happy to answer their many questions.
One of our favorite parts of our visit to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was the ‘Hike for Health” program. We picked up a log sheet in the visitor center and recorded our hikes. Once we reached 5 miles in total, we recieved a free pin. By dividing the milage among shorter hikes over a couple of days, even my three-year-old was able to do it!
This park site preserves a unique piece of habitat in the Sonoran desert. Not only is it one of the only places where the organ pipe cactus is found in the US, it is also home to an endangered pupfish. You can see the pupfish in a manmade pool at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center, and also in their original habitat, Quitobaquito Springs.
The Monument is right on the Mexican border, and there has been illegal activity in the past. The Visitor Center is named after a ranger, Kris Eggle, who was killed in the line of duty in 2002 while pursuing drug cartel members. Don’t let that deter you from visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, however! We didn’t encounter anyone sneaking across the border, but we did see a gorgeous variety of plant and animal life.