It acts like a National Park and looks like a National Park but it is designated a monument. When I questioned a ranger about this he said there have been many attempts to push a bill through congress that would classify Organ Pipe Cactus as a National Park but so far no success. Presently, I doubt an NP designation is a high priority in Washington DC. No matter the name, we enjoyed our visit. The park is in pristine condition, with more than 200 campsites and plenty of nearly new restroom facilities scattered through the campground. Solar showers are available and water spigots are within easy reach. A nightly rate of just $8.00 (with the America the Beautiful Pass) makes this a very attractive location.
This park covers more than 500 acres and it’s the only place where one can see large stands of Organ Pipe Cacti growing naturally. The cacti cover the hillside and along with the Saguaro Cactus and the Ocotillo Bush, it creates almost a surreal landscape… like we were on another planet.
We went on a six mile trek following one of the parks suggested routes. It was strange to be in a location where there are so few people. I enjoyed the trek but sadly I couldn’t completely relax as there is signage in several locations stating that smuggling and illegal immigration occur in the area. This park is just eight miles from the Mexico border and we saw border police and hovering helicopters in several locations. While I didn’t fear for my safety, it was not a comfortable feeling.
We have enjoyed the freedom from mosquitos and gnats while on this trip. It’s been so nice to fling open doors and windows without caution or fear of the dreaded mosquito; however, we’ve discovered that every location has its pests. When we first arrived in OPCNM, I noticed that the car hoods of most vehicles were propped open. This seemed rather strange until I learned that kangaroo rats like to chew on car insulation and use it for nests. Propping open the hood is a prevention. You’ll see from our photo we promptly opened our hood!
It looks like Utah weather may prevent us from visiting the five National gems on this trip. Stay tuned.