It was almost deserted when we camped there in October but in the winter months you really need a reservation.
We had a nice stay at this campground. The hosts and rangers were friendly, the sites and restrooms were clean and plentiful, and the park was beautiful at sunrise and sunset. The stars at night exploded in the night sky. We'd never seen so many stars.
We arrived on a Wednesday around noon, and the campground was about half full. We had plenty of sites to choose from, and we were lucky enough to find one on an end that also had a decent amount of shrubbery to provide some shade on the west side of our rig in the afternoons. It was sunny and windy, so we were happy we didn't need the shade canopy and the awning wouldn't have done much at that angle anyway. All the sites are pull-through and face west (which is strange but I guess since the time to camp here is in the winter and campers want sun). Sites have a grill (ours looked brand new), picnic table, and the rigs sit on a concrete pad. No fire ring, but they do allow fires if you bring your own portable pit that's off the ground. We filled up the Airstream with water at the dump station when we got there, and the free solar showers were nice to have. We stayed in one of the three generator-free rows. Pretty much everyone in the campground had their truck or camper hoods up and undercarriage lighting on at night to prevent packrats from setting up shop. Yuck.
Wednesday through Saturday, there is a ranger program at 7 pm in the amphitheater. These were very well done and enjoyable. We saw one on desert flora and another on space exploration.
Hiking in the park is easy to moderate, but it wasn't very exciting to us Phoenicians as it was a lot like home. Luckily home is very pretty so it wasn't a big drag. :) There's an easy one-mile loops around the campground that is nice to do first thing in the morning or at sunset.
The campground is five miles from the Mexican border, and we could hear plenty of traffic heading south on 85 to Rocky Point for spring break. Other than the occasional coyote howl, that was really the only noise as everyone else seemed to head into their campers at 8 pm, immediately after the ranger program. To be honest, the campground had the vibe of a 55+ active adult community. Everyone was friendly but we felt a little like the record scratched when we pulled in with our adolescent children. haha
Overall, we had a nice, if uneventful and even a bit boring, trip to Organ Pipe.
Saturday, March 24, 2018
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ
, I am captivated by the desert, whether it be Mohave, Great Basin, Chihuahua or our own Sonoran Desert. I love the wide open views, the sparse flora, the equally sparse and ornery fauna, the warmth and chill of a desert morning, the majesty of the saguaro or the coarse obstinance of a Joshua Tree yucca. I feel unworthy of the sheer toughness required to accept the difficulties of residing in one of the harsher environments on Earth, and yet I enjoy the benefits of a clear, cool spring evening in one of the best government operated parks available to the American people. And more than a few people are taking advantage of it.
This park is bargain. The entrance fee is a mere ten bucks; camping is only sixteen dollars a night. If one, like I, has an old fart pass the entry fee is waived and the camping dues are halved, a bargain by even Mr. Scrooge’s estimation. Parks run by the National Park Service tend to have fewer amenities but Organ Pipe has many including flush toilets and solar showers, trash pickup, tables, grill stands, ramada shading and full RV sites, some with pull-through accommodations. Not available are cell phone service and wifi in the campground although weak wifi is sketchy but possible at the visitor center.
One thing of note is the campsite patrol pairing, an older couple driving around in one of those odd little two-seater carts with a truck bed, policing the recently vacated campsites The woman checks out the site picking up any pieces of left-over trash while the gentleman, get this, sweeps the tent pad with a broom. I don’t know if they are paid part-time or volunteers but they do their work cheerfully and effectively and the tent pads and campsites look positively pristine. Not bad for eight bucks a night.
I even managed to sneak in shower, yes, a shower, at one of the restrooms that has a solar shower, there being three such in the campground. It’s kind of a different experience since the solar heater doesn’t really get warmed up until midday, so earlier than that the showerer might expect to get a coolish sort of shower. Mine was tepid at best. Plus, the showers are push button for both a higher and lower shower nozzle. You push the upper button to receive about 5 seconds of shower. Several pushes are needed to get suitable wet. Lather up, push a button to rinse, then lather again, push a button to rinse, lather up, push the lower button to rinse. The lower nozzle may be for kids but works perfectly fine for washing one’s backside. All in all, it takes a bit longer to get clean but eventually gets the job done.
The park offers desert hiking at its finest with many longer or shorter hikes through the amazing Sonora desert landscape and a teeth rattling ten mile drive to an oasis hard on the Mexican Border, Quitobaquito Spring. Quitobaquito is a miracle in the southern desert, It’s a spring fed lagoon, hard on the border of Mexico, maybe an acre in size and maybe 4 to 7 feet deep. It is fed by a spring putting out about fifty cubic feet per second of fresh water and is inhabited by various waterfowl (a squadron of coots on this day) and a population of desert pupfish, little bitty guppie-like piscines that only live in this particular pond in the dez, kind of like the pupfish that live in a small pool in Death Valley. The question have is how the hell did they get there. For further info: https://organpipehistory.com/orpi-a-z/quitobaquito-springs-2/. It is a marvelous oasis in the desert.
I stayed 3 nights at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and should have stayed a week. I love this park and will be back.
LOVED this park and fantastic campground! I drove in for a long weekend with my 2 girls and we camped out in my minivan. This is a truly beautiful, magical and unique park. We spent 2 nights in a pull thru rv space nearbathrooms with showers! I told friends it was like camping in a desert botanical garden - we were surrounded by cacti and shrubs instead of another vehicle right on topof us.