Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
The last time we came to this part of Arizona we boondocked just outside Why. This time, we decided to stay in the campground at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument instead. We wanted to see more of the monument itself, plus there was rain in the forecast for a few days. So a campground sounded a bit safer, which ended up being a really good decision.
The first day I was out walking Torrey and spotted this amazingly cool crested organ pipe cactus. I took her back, grabbed my camera and hiked up to where it was.
Saguaro, and organ pipe both will on occasion grow these crests. Nobody really knows why, and they aren’t very common. I think they are way cool though.
I also found a baby tarantula. This whole thing was about the size of a quarter. I took his photo, and left him to his day.
Thursday, Thanksgiving, we went for a very nice hike to Victoria mine. This building was the mine store, plus there are still open mines in the general vicinity.
The little building was made from rocks, and clay that were clearly just picked up from the area. The walls were about a foot thick, which I’m sure was very nice in the summer heat. There are two mine openings that have big steel cages on them. There is a sign that says the bats live in them, and the steel bars allow them to go in and out, but people can’t get in there and disturb them, which I think is very cool and I would love to see that at sunset.
That night it rained and blew like like I’ve never seen in the desert. I thought for sure we had got 2 or 3 inches of rain, but when I asked at the visitor center they said it was 1.4 inches. Anyway, Friday morning we headed out on the Ajo mountain loop road to see what we could see. The sky was still cloudy, and very cool looking. Perfect for photos.
This is a baby saguaro cactus, and a baby organ pipe cactus. They were sharing the same space quite nicely. They don’t know they are different, they just wanted to be friends.
This is a full size saguaro, and organ pipe. The organ pipe get quite large.
And I’m going to say right here that I think organ pipe is a dumb name for this cactus. These cactus only grow in this area, encompassing this small piece of Arizona, and further south into Mexico. So, I looked up what they call the cactus in Mexico. Pitaya, meaning fruit, or Pitaya Dulce, meaning sweet fruit. The reason for that name is the cactus fruit they grow every year after they flower. All cactus get fruit at the base of where the flower grows, and most, if not all are edible. The pitaya grow a nice large red fruit, that is apparently quite delicious. So anyway, I think pitaya is a much better name.
So back to our day. We stopped at a pull out and walked along the hillside. Across the big draw we saw this waterfall.
After rain is about the only time you see stuff like this in the desert, so we decided to see if there was a way to get closer. We drove a bit further and just bushwacked our way towards the waterfall. What a beautiful reward it was.
The pool was quite deep, and the surrounding rocks were very cool. We were on top of the tall waterfall, with no way to get down to it from there. So we walked up, and around till we found a spot that we could make our way down. The fall was probably 20 feet tall.
Such an amazing thing to see, and I’m sure not something seen by very many people. The waterfalls were not visible from the road, nor were they marked in any way as being there. Plus, they would only be flowing like this after a good rain like we had.
After a cloudy day like that, you can almost always expect a nice sunset. We drove up the Puerto Blanco north road and found a spot to wait for the sky.
Sunsets happen in stages of color.
Don’t forget to turn around and look towards the east too.
I added this image below to my website, what a gorgeous piece of art it would make.
It’s been a great few days, and I’m really glad we came back this way.