Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
A Scenic National Park Teeming With Cactus In South Central Arizona
|Click any image to view it at a larger size.
|Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Our Visit
January 14, 2007 - On Sunday morning, my buddy Joel and I drove to Organ Pipe Cactus National Park,
located approximately 120 miles west of Tucson in south central Arizona. Compared to other national parks and monuments,
it is considered quite remote and an undervisited park, but the desert scenery is beautiful, as you'll see. ;)
|First, a few basics about the park. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
is in one of the hottest regions of Arizona. (On our day to visit, while much of the Mountain West was suffering
in below zero and single digit temperatures, it was a sunny 54 degrees.)
It is situated north of the U.S./Mexico border with the towns of Ajo, AZ and Why, AZ as the closest Americans towns.
Because the park is so close to the border, illegal immigration and its related activies affect
the park in adverse ways. The top two photos are signs at the visitor center which explain some of the challenges park
rangers face, including the tragic death of Kris Eggle. Do take a moment and read that sign!
Some trails and roads are either closed or it is generally discouraged for you to enjoy because of
criminal activity. The Old Sonoyta Highway is a good example of this.
Also, note on the map (bottom right) that the Camino de Dos Republicas and much of Puerto Blanco Drive
(besides the two miles nearest the visitor center) are closed. We were also discouraged by park rangers from exploring Arch Canyon and the Bull Pasture Loop Trail
(both situated on the Ajo Mountain Loop Drive) due to increasing illegal activity.
Now having said all that, Joel and I had an amazing time and really enjoyed much of the desert scenery.
This is Arizona at its best! We drove around the Ajo Mountain Loop and here are some of my best photos. :)
|Border Patrol And My Experience In Lukeville, Arizona
As we were leaving the Ajo Mountain Loop, I snapped the above photo of one of many border patrol
trucks we saw. Oh but the fun was just beginning!
Joel and I drove five miles to the border town of Lukeville, Arizona.
There is merely a RV park, gas station and general store in Lukeville, besides the large border patrol headquarters.
We parked and walked 500 yards to the border to check things out when we witnessed seven or eight patrol
officers arrest two teenagers who apparently illegally entered from Mexico. With their hands up behind their head, I pulled
out my camera to snap a photo, but was shouted down by the officers. I immediately put the camera down
and continued to walk to the general store feeling like the stupid tourist that I was. Ahhhhhh ... then just moments later, while in front of the
general store (where I snapped the adjacent photo of the Mexican gate), a young Mexican boy (age 9?) called me
a gringo as he walked toward the gate.
I was happy to have a lively border experience! I witnessed two illegals getting arrested by intense
border patrolmen and was the recipient of racism by a young Mexican.
||As we were headed out of the monument (northbound towards Why, Arizona),
we reached this checkpoint and border patrol searched the trunk
of Joel's Ford Mustang before we could proceed.
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