Today is President’s Day and we dragged our high school kids out of bed and drove to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument where we hiked two beautiful trails.But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First we stopped at the Visitor Center to get the passport stamp. We got there fairly early…we were at the visitor’s center about 8:30am and there were only 2 other cars in the parking lot.
Organ Pipe is on the Arizona/Mexico border. The visitor center is 5 miles from the border. Organ Pipe was closed for 11 years due to safety concerns with drug running and illegal immigration. It had been dubbed the most dangerous park in the US. It reopened in 2014 with enhanced border security and more rangers. Signs, like the one above and park literature addresses these concerns and tells you to stay away from suspicious people and call 9-1-1 if you have cell service. As a side note, we didn’t see any suspicious people! We barely saw any people at all actually….
So, in order to get to the trail head you drive on a dirt road, it’s a 21 miles loop. Probably 14 miles to the trail head and 7 more to get back to the highway. It is a gorgeous drive and there are lots of places to pull over. There is one other hike off this loop – the arches trail where you hike to the arch below. Looked absolutely beautiful, but could not talk hubby or the kids to doing this hike.
Next stop the parking area for Bull Pasture. Again, only two cars in the lot when we got there. There are pit toilets available and some picnic tables.
We hike the Bull Pasture trail up to Bull Meadow. It was a moderate/difficult hike along the side of the ridge. It had rained the last two days so there was water on the trail and we could hear water running off of the Ajo Mountains. It was 1.5 miles up to Bull Pasture
There were great views of the Ajo Mountain Range – and you could continue on an un-maintained trail to hike to the top of Ajo Mountain, it’s another 2 miles. No takers on that, but we came down from Bull Pasture and then took the Estes Canyon trail back to our car. That was about 2 miles. The Estes Canyon trail is easy and goes down on the canyon floor and you walk among the organ pipe cactus and all the other cactus. And they are huge! I hike in the desert all the time, but these plants are all as tall as me or taller. It’s easy to lose sight of the people you’re with. You can’t see over the these plants!
Both hikes were great, but enjoyed the Bull Pasture trail a little more. I’d love to come back to Organ Pipe and hike some more of the trails. It’s a beautiful place with beautiful hiking!