Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

I've been looking forward to this trip for a couple of weeks now. Bob and I took a 2 1/4 hour drive down to Why, AZ to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in the Sonoran Desert.  It's rather a special place because it is the only place in the United States where Organ Pipe Cacti grow naturally.  Here's a picture of one.
As you can see, they get pretty large, growing in clusters of narrow stems that can reach 16' high and 12' across, and take 150 years to reach maturity. They are pollinated by bats.

It was a beautiful drive down to the National Monument, with mountains and plenty of Saguaro Cacti.

Once at the visitors center, I asked the rangers what is the difference between a National Monument and a National Park.  Do you know? A President can declare an area a National Monument, but it takes much lobbying and an Act of Congress to make a National Park. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared this land a National Monument on April 13, 1937.

We decided to purchase an Annual National Park Pass today so that we can visit as many federal parks as we come across.  It is good for entrance fees at national parks and monuments, national wildlife refuges, national forests and grasslands, and BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) as well as Bureau of Reclamation land. I think we can get our money's worth out of it.

We took a walk on a hiking trail around the Monument's campground, which was wild enough for Auggie.  He didn't really seem to appreciate the desert setting, with cacti all around and hot sand. But it was sure beautiful!

The park is home to many animals, including:
  • Mountain Lion
  • Mule Deer
  • White-tailed Deer
  • Desert Bighorn
  • Sonoran Pronghorn
  • Javelina
  • Lesser Long Nosed Bat
  • Coyote
  • Jackrabbit
  • Kangaroo Rat
  • Packrat
  • Quitobaquito pupfish
  • more bird species than can be listed!
  • several species of reptiles, including Rattlesnakes and tortoises
  • several types of scorpions
We didn't see any of these (and some I was really glad NOT to see!) but the bird calls we heard were really beautiful. It would be a great place to camp, and there is a campground with dry camping (no hookups) that would accommodate our sized rig. So maybe one day we will come back and stay for a few days.

1 comment:

  1. I would never see so many beautiful cacti if it weren't for your blog!! Thanks for the education.