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Mount Ajo Peak, AZ

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Guide 47 Triplogs  2 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Southwest > Ajo
4.7 of 5 by 17
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Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Round Trip 9 miles
Trailhead Elevation 2,350 feet
Elevation Gain 2,450 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,800 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7.5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 23
Interest Peak
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
Dogs not allowed
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
17  2018-11-03 Jim_H
12  2018-11-03 LindaAnn
30  2017-04-08
Bull Pasture - Estes Canyon Loop
7  2016-11-26 JuanJaimeiii
15  2016-11-26 Tortoise_Hiker
21  2016-04-03 trekkin_gecko
18  2016-04-03 BiFrost
7  2016-03-08 sbkelley
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5
Author gpsjoe
author avatar Guides 16
Routes 123
Photos 2,810
Trips 140 map ( 1,516 miles )
Age 77 Male Gender
Location Mesa, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb → 8 AM
Seasons   Late Autumn to Early Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:34pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Very Scenic Low Desert
by gpsjoe

The hike to the peak of Mount Ajo is both challenging and beautiful. The views of the surrounding mountains into Mexico along the trail and at the peak are spectacular. The lush vegetation in Bull Pasture and especially Estes Canyon added another dimension to this hike. These areas get enough water to support some of the healthiest organ pipe, saguaro and cholla cactus plants I have ever seen. Some chollas were 8 to 10 feet tall and looked like small trees. I have seen plenty of chollas but these were unusual.

Going in we followed the Bull Pasture Trail all the way to Bull Pasture. Along the way there are views to the south to mountains in Mexico. This is a maintained trail that climbs from the trailhead at 2,350 feet to 3,250 feet in about 1.5 miles reaching the end of the official trail overlooking bull pasture where ranchers once kept cattle during the winter months. The pasture is rich with lush grasses and you can see why it is aptly named. At the end of the Bull Pasture trail there is a second sign-in post I assume is for those continuing on past that point. There is an un-maintained use trail from there to the peak about 2.6 miles long that is marked with rock cairns along the way and is not too difficult to follow. We climbed from 3,250 feet to the peak of Mount Ajo at 4,808 feet on this trail. There are several very steep sections with loose dirt and rocks that make it a bit challenging but ultimately doable. The reward is the spectacular 360 degree views from the top of the mountain ranges of Mexico, Organ Pipe and the Tohono Odham Indian Reservation. At the peak there is a large ammo sign-in box and a couple of low profile solar powered FM antennas. The antennas are not visible from below and only come into sight about a mile from the peak.

Going back down is a slow process due to those steep sections and rocky terrain. When we arrived at the signed intersection of the Bull Pasture and Estes Canyon trails we turned right onto the Estes Canyon trail and returned to the trailhead this way. The relaxing return hike through Estes Canyon was very scenic. Some of the best cactus specimens were in this lushly vegetated canyon. Also there are some great views back up to the Peak of Mount Ajo.

Sun_Hiker and I did this one on a Thursday starting at 9:00 AM and finishing at 4:30 PM. We went very slowly on the downhill part and neither one of us fell. Also we stopped numerous times for picture taking, something I'm sure that most will want to do. There are plenty of photo opportunities here.

Mount Ajo is in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We drove from Phoenix to the Visitor Center on Wednesday afternoon and stayed in Ajo Wednesday night. There are campgrounds near the visitor center as well as in town of Why and a few places to stay in Ajo, 33 miles from the visitor center. The National Park allows backcountry camping. Stop in the visitor center to get the appropriate permits. Alternatively you could leave Phoenix at 4:00 AM or so, do the hike and return home the same day, but that's a long, long day and I don't recommend it.

Stop in the visitor center located 33 miles past Ajo (22 miles past Why) on route 85 for a map and directions to the trailhead. There is an $8.00 charge unless you have a National Parks or Golden Age Pass.

Cautionary notes:
1. The hike is almost totally exposed. The peak season at Organ Pipe (from their website) is November 15 to April 15. To avoid excessive heat, I would do this one November 15 or later to March 15. Avoid this hike completely during the summer months since daytime highs can exceed 100 degrees. And it will feel a lot higher than that with no protection from the sun.
2. The first 1.5 miles on the Bull Pasture trail is good trail with a reasonable hiking grade. Then the use trail to the peak (not shown on the official map but adequately marked with rock cairns) becomes quite rocky with loose dirt and rocks and very steep in parts. This will slow your rate of progress significantly while hiking up to the peak and especially while coming back down.
3. This hike should never be attempted in the rain or when the trail is wet. If you find yourself there under these conditions you can do an alternative hike like the hike through Arch canyon up to the Arch. We went with a group to Organ Pipe in February 2005. It rained that day and we did exactly that.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2006-01-27 gpsjoe
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent of 18 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    mt. ajo has been on my wish list for several years
    four of us got going a little before 9:00, with angela planning to join us at bull pasture on our way down
    up bull pasture trail to a saddle overlooking the pasture
    trail conditions were excellent; seems work has been done recently
    a cairned and well worn use trail wrapped around the southern end of the pasture
    the ascent started soon after, and we came to the steep, loose scree section
    not bad going up, but not my favorite thing going down
    the grade moderated a bit, as we traversed along a bench, then gained a ridgeline
    this part of the hike was pure fun, with good footing, nice views and a breeze up high
    one last uphill and we were on the summit
    a grand summit, too, with 360 views for miles and plenty of room
    signed the register, took a few photos and had some lunch
    retraced our route down, then after the slow-going scree section, karl wanted to try to find bull pasture spring
    we cut toward it off-trail and looked around the drainage right where a waypoint marked it, but couldn't find any evidence of the spring, other than brighter green vegetation
    karl did find a pool of water where the drainage deepens, but not the source
    cut across bull pasture to pick up the trail
    by now we could see angela at the end of the loop trail, and soon hooked up with her
    took estes canyon trail back down
    a lot of vegetation along this path - pretty lush for desert hiking
    this hike ranks in my top ten, and i would love to do it again
    great views throughout, interesting geology, and a nice mix of terrain
    good company today, too
    thanks, all y'all!
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Phenomenal day hiking Mt. Ajo. Saw a friendly guy walking to Tucson on our drive to the trailhead(!) But the weather was great. After we got through the first section of real trail quick enough, we decided to make a run for the summit. The path is cairned extremely well- very easy route finding. Other than a few sections of loose rock, the journey was a lot more accessible than we thought it would be. Phenomenal 360° views all around from the ridge and peak. Absolutely loved Bull Pasture on the way back.

    Our first trip to Organ Pipe- but this has to be one of the best / most accessible excursions in the monument. Highly recommended.
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Having bagged around 90 peaks since moving to AZ a few years ago, it’s not very often that a new hike or peak moves into my #1 spot. Yesterday, the trek to Mount Ajo did just that [in the category of Best Overall Summit Hike in AZ]. If I had to rank this hike in terms of the: views, fun-factor, and variety, the numbers would be: 10, 10, & 8.

    From start to finish, there are exceptional views in every direction. The immediate surroundings are filled with smaller peaks, canyons, and other rocks formations; and in the distance are peaks and mountains in every direction. The landscape is also fairly colorful [for Arizona], which adds to the beauty. As is usually the case, the summit views were my favorite. They would rank #2 on my list for Best Overall Summit Views, [in AZ], second to only Munds Mountain in Sedona.

    While it’s not every weekend or even every month that I’m treated to killer views like those encountered en route to Mount Ajo, my preference for bushwhacking / off-trail has set the bar pretty high when it comes to variety and the ‘fun factor’. For those that know me, the fact that I did not go off-trail [but am still raving about this hike] speaks volumes. For those that don’t, let’s just say that of my past 20 day hikes, Mt. Ajo and just two others [Pusch Peak & Apache Peak in the Whetstones] were the only ones where I actually stuck to the trail / cairned route from start to finish… enough said!

    For Mt. Ajo, I opted for the Bull Pasture Trail on the ascent. A series of switchbacks quickly take you up several hundred feet, and the views just keep getting better. Before long, boulders and rock formations that were part of the backdrop at the beginning are now right next to you. About 1/3 of the way to the summit, the official trail ends and the unofficial cairned route begins; things get more rugged and fun. After a few short, steep switchbacks with some lose footing, the route takes you right by something amazing rock formations, including a miniature window/arch. At this point, the awesomeness factor jumps to a whole new level.

    Next, the route evens out but continues to climb very gradually toward a ridgeline. As the primary unofficial route nears the ridgeline, I hopped on a fainter route leading to the top of the ridgeline. Once on top, the views to the East, [which are completely blocked up to this point], completely open up… total awesomeness! The route on the ridgeline merges with the main unofficial route very shortly. Toward the end of the ridgeline, the route heads toward a false summit and then wraps around it, counterclockwise, as it gradually continues to ascend. Before long, the solar panels on Mt. Ajo come into view and the destination becomes very clear. When Ajo first comes into view, it appears as though you’re going to lose some hard-earned elevation gain, but the rest of the way proves to be a nice rolling ridge ride, ending with a short but fun boulder hop to the top.

    On the summit, the fun and beautiful views don’t stop in the area of the highpoint where all the solar panels are. In fact, continuing for another 1/3 to 1/2 mile Northward proved to be the best part of the summit experience. There is a large rock that looks like a spaceship [ photo ] and is covered in lime green lichen, [which makes for a great resting spot for those like me who don’t mind a little direct sun]. On the other side of this rock, I found two intact longhorn skulls, which made for some really fun photos. After the skulls, there is a helicopter landing area, and around this point a beautiful canyon below and to the East comes into view. Continuing just a little further to the North, [to the area with the small solar panel], the views open up even more. There is another beautiful canyon to the Northwest, [which looks like it would make for an amazing boulder hop], and the more gradual slopes of the Northeastern end, [with dirt roads not too far off], had me thinking of the bushwhack and car-drop potential. There was also a “Data Logging Rain Gauge” at this end of the summit. Never having seen one, the device was a lot simpler than I had envisioned. And, just lying on the rocks at this edge of the summit, was a small ‘US Boundary NPS’ sign.

    For the return trip, I tool the Estes Canyon trail. Not having to do a complete out-and-back was an added bonus; and, [with somewhat tired legs by this point], I really liked how this trail wasted no time in taking you to the canyon floor and getting the descent over with. The excellence footing, different views, and lush vegetation, [including giant cactus trees and species of plants I hadn’t seen anywhere else on the trail that day], made for a perfect finish.

    Topping off the awesome adventure, was having great company. I did this hike with some friends and others in the Tucson-based Sierra Adventure Meet-up Group. Everyone was very pleasant and there was no B.S. kind of drama, [at least none I was aware of], that often occurs with large groups. Another nice thing was that Mitch, [our group leader], really takes the time to enjoy the summit and the journey to/from it… and he’s not one to ‘force’ everyone to go at the same pace. Naturally being faster most, [but being the type that could spend all day on a beautiful summit], I really had the best of both worlds: being first to make summit, among the last four to leave it, and a quality three hours in between to enjoy it and get to know some of the others.
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Got an invite from JJ to join him in the land of the organ pipe cactus. This has been on my list for a long time. We made good time getting down to the trailhead. JJ drove the 11+ miles on the gravel road part in about 15 minutes. :o

    The first part of the trail is in great shape, while the upper 2/3s not so much. Grass has grown in the trail obscuring it somewhat and producing a nice crop of foxtails. Yikes. Other than that a fun trail. Steep at times.

    The whole area is very pretty and green from the rains. Unique with the organ pipe cactus. Reminded me a bit like Picketpost at times and Vulture Peak at times. Recommended.

    Thanks John! :)
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This is the second Mt.Ajo trip I've planned for the ABC, and the second time that nearly everyone backed out of the trip last minute. I guess I don't really mind...the area is much more magical when you can enjoy the immense and pressing isolation that only the desert can give. It was a beautiful weekend for a hike, and the weather favored us by dipping a few degrees on just the right day. Although a clear sky would have been preferred, something tells me that it's a seasonal catch that I'm going to need to get better at.

    We really went hoping for wildflowers, and while we were disappointed for the most part (no poppies, lupines or the like) the desert was still cloaked in beauty - with more of the perennials blooming (like fairy duster, brittle bush and penstemon).

    Angela did a great blow-by-blow description of the hike itself, including the amazing fallen arch/window and the perfect beer at the top (though I must agree, how does one drink 'part' of a beer?). I thought that the route was easier to find on this trip, though if that's because I've been doing a lot more bushwhacking myself or if there's been more traffic to the peak I couldn't really say. In any case, it's a haul up to the top of that mountain, and parts of the steep, loose trail are precarious without being outright dangerous. It's a great bit of adventure, and I'd imagine even the most jaded adventurer would find something to love.

    I will say, the entirety of the Organpipe experience was a touch nerve wracking. I'm not at all the sort who gets jittery about guns and such, but the Border Patrol presence in that area is downright oppressive. I started counting about 1/2 way on my drive from Tucson and I encountered 12 BP vehicles just on the highway, not counting the 2 checkpoints (manned with dogs and armed men) and other vehicles parked on the side of the road monitoring. It feels a bit like you're traveling in a war zone. I wonder if people in other parts of the country realize just how impacted this border area is. Just the carbon emissions alone boggle the mind, let alone the moneys being spent on men, equipment, fuel and facilities.

    I don't feel safer - I feel unwelcome, even as a citizen. What's more, a park which (according to the recent article in the AZ Highways) saw visitor numbers in the hundreds of thousands in the 90's now sees less than 30k. That's paying visitors, anyway...who knows how many agents and "illegals" are in the park at any given time. Sigh.
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    I am writing this report on 4/5/2013: Can't believe I'm doing this one again. It's not the easiest hike in the world but I would be curious to see how I would do vs 3 years ago. It went well except for my legs. I decided this year I would expose my legs to some sun :) . Well this is fine if you have a well manicured trail but once we got to Bull Pasture, the only manicuring that was going on was to my legs. And of course, silly me, I decided to tough it out rather than putting the pant legs back on :doh: . Almost two weeks later my legs are starting to heal up nicely. Lesson learned.

    It was going to be a hazy day so we wouldn't get to see the Sea. The brittlebush had just started and in the morning light, that and some of the other wildflowers and of course the Organ Pipe were magnificent. I didn't realize the origin of that name Organ Pipe but according to the paper from the Visitors Center: "early settlers who encountered dead cacti were reminded of church pipe organs and called these cacti organ pipes".

    All 3 of us are picture takers so it didn't take long to get distracted over and over again as we winded our way up Bull Pasture Trail. Once you got about 1 mile in as you turn the corner to that one section, it gets even more grand. There's that little section of puffy jumpin' cholla and then as you go a little higher the brittle bush and in the distance to the west, a sagauro covered hillside. We would enjoy smatterings of other wildflowers and cacti along the way as well.

    The temp seemed about right. I think we were lucky in that regard. It is definitely a bit of a climb to the pasture but not so bad when you're taking lots of pictures and video. We barely rested here as we made our way:
      to the right side of Bull Pasture then around the bend and
      head along the other side of the Pasture before
      turning to the right past the first arch
      and then the slippery scree climb

    to the now... wait for it.... FALLEN arch :o :o :o . The same Arch that Wendy and John had climbed/fallen into on our trip 3 years ago. This Arch had to have fallen between Randal's last visit in January this year and our visit. OMG! still can't get over it.

    Now that we are near Tier 3 of our climb, it was starting to get a bit toasty as we traversed this west side toward our few fake summits. I think, like most ridgelines, this is always entertaining as there is so much to see. We lost our way once where we ended up on top of one of the humps instead of to the east side but it wasn't that big of a problem as it looked like others had made the same mistake :? .

    One of our cohorts wanted to stop when we were about 10 minutes from the Peak so we could have lunch before that climb. So we had our lunch and I had part of my beer overlooking one of the grassy areas that had some cholla and junipers growing. Next up, Mount Ajo. It was a quick trip and then scramble up to the top. Fortunately, this time the wind was only gusting so we got to sit down and enjoy the Peak. Even though the haze was still thick, you could still see pretty far. We signed in and I finished my beer. I found this almost perfect cutout in the rock to put my behind in and actually lay back for a 5 minute cat nap.

    Alas it was time to go. We made our way down the ridgeline which at times can be precarious and rested just before the Arch scree. At the Arch, Wendy went and investigated the big boulder that had fallen from it. We discovered that the inside had crystallized in a few spots. We paid our respects and then slip-slided our way down the scree. It didn't seem quite as bad as last time but it did seem quite as long :sweat: .

    About one third of the way into Bull Pasture, Wendy and Derrick decided we would wait a bit for the sun to get lower so that when you round the corner on the Bull Pasture Trail, your photo ops will be better quality. It's just that it was a little warm but oh well. As we were heading down the drainage below the pasture Wendy asked me if I could zoom and see if that was water that she saw and sure enough, it was. There was another area (where we had crossed at the top of the pasture) where we had spotted water and at this lower section, though quite a distance, there was a lot of water.

    That first 1/2 mile or so coming down from Bull Pasture seemed long until we finally got to the photogenic section. Well guess what happened? If you guess full-on "tibbermode", you would be correct. And it didn't stop until we rounded the section past the red rock formation and puffy chollas. The photo-taking didn't engage again until we got to the bottom with all the Organ Pipe and chain chollas being bathed in late afternoon light. Alas we made it to Tonto, changed our shoes and then drove back to camp with very large smiles on our faces. ANOTHER glorious day in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.

    Two videos mostly from the trek up to Mount Ajo with a little bit of the trek down as far as the fallen Arch. and as always for the best quality, watch them in HD.
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Organ Pipe Cactus NM - Winter 2013
    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - Winter Chill 2013

    The Organ Pipe/Cabeza Prieta/Barry M. Goldwater Range trio has always been a special place for me - a destination that conjures up images of the "wild-wild west" with an element of danger in an area of totally unique geology, flora, and fauna found nowhere else in the world.

    ORPI =>
    Cabeza Prieta => ... index.html
    BMGR => ... sp?id=5062

    A trek along the El Camino del Diablo (check out => ) provides an opportunity to traverse the ORPI/CPNWR/BMGR trio. Although we weren't able to pull off a "birthday weekend" trek along El Camino, we did pull off the next best thing - a "birthday weekend" viewing of El Camino and surroundings from the highest vantage point - Mt. Ajo Peak (check out => and ).

    A 6:45am rendezvous at the Ahwatukee Einstein's Bagels for an eye-opener and some morning eats and we were on the road by 7am. The pre-dawn temperature of 27degF seen on my truck thermometer was probably the lowest I've ever seen leaving my house for a hike. Needless to say we were prepared for a winter hike fit for US/Canada border destination - not the US/Mexico border destination we were headed towards!

    We made the ORPI Visitor's Center around 9:30am to purchase my annual NPS pass (check out => ) and we were soon bouncing our way along Ajo Mountain Drive towards the trail head. With this being Jeff Cherry's first desert hiking trek, we had multiple stops taking in the choice sights. By the time we were able to start our ascent of Mt. Ajo, it was 10:30am. As per usual, we agreed on a hard-stop turnaround time - 2:30pm - to avoid a treacherous return in darkness on a moonless night.

    We arrived at Bull Pasture a little after 11:30am were we lingered a bit and lightened our backpack load eating and drinking a good portion of the weight. We finished the steep scree ascent topped out by "the whale" (check out => ) a little after 1pm arriving at the summit 2:30pm sharp - our designated turnaround time. We couldn't resist squeezing in a few extra minutes to suck-up those stunning 360 degree views, sign the summit register in the ammo box, and ponder the purpose of the nearby solar powered antenna. Even picked out some of the landmarks along the El Camino del Diablo from this vantage! I should point out that the low temperatures took the charge out of my camera battery (had to warm them up in my hands many times just to get a shot).

    The descent went as planned - 3 segments each doable in 1 hour chunks (summit to "the whale" in 1 hour; "the whale" to Bull Pasture signage in 1 hour; Bull Pasture to the TH in 1 hour). We broke out the BBQ to grill some brats with some choice beverages and snacks at the trail head. As the sun disappeared, so did the comfortable temperatures. We had to retreat to the cab of the F-150 and crank up the heater before we could finish our last brat and have dessert. We packed-up and readied for the return home drive. As my truck transitioned from the gravel of Ajo Mountain Drive to Hwy 85, my truck thermometer indicated 31degF and 7pm.

    It should be noted that as we exited ORPI and stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint, it marked our first human encounter of the day since I purchased my NPS pass earlier that morning. Photos to follow (when I get the chance)...
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Took Mike Mattes for his first trip down to Organ Pipe (not counting our El Camino del Diablo 4WD trek) and headed up Mt. Ajo. Once again that Annual NPS Pass shows it's worth. Met Catherine and Collin visiting from Vancouver Island and a 4-some visiting from Switzerland. Temperatures were down right toasty - perfect!

    Dinner at Marcela's Cafe & Bakery in Ajo AZ => ... Bakery-Ajo
    before heading home in the darkness.

    Photo evidence to follow...

    BTW - "Bull" of Bull Pasture =>
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Not a bad "Plan B". Not bad at all. In fact, I think that this was a fantastic idea! I'm only sorry that I hadn't had sooner! Organ Pipe National Monument is dramatically under appreciated in my opinion, and the threat of illegal immigrants and drug runners has scared off a lot of the rest of the potential visitors. This time of year, however, the campgrounds are full of retirees pulling their RVs from the midwest and further east, looking for some rays, a few special cactus and the star of the show this spring:

    wildflowers :budrose: !

    Of course, it wasn't quite the show I've seen in previous years there. As I recall, the last time I visited was like 2004 or so - before I even had a digital camera to record it all with! Ak - slides :o That year was actually a little better, or I hit it at a better time. This year the flowers are scattered and small - blooming a little late to reach their full potential. But that certainly doesn't mean there weren't plenty of pretty blooms to admire!

    The hike up to Mt. Ajo was all that I needed for this particular weekend: infinitely doable (to quote Randal's description), technically and physically challenging and as scenically rewarding as they get. Though I have to admit that the combination of my acrophobia and the overwhelming glut of views throughout the hike, I found the actual peak to be something of a anticlimax. Sure - it's pretty, and it's the top, but you can get views nearly just as stunning from many spots along the ridge line leading up to that point (and you don't feel like your teetering inches from death).

    Going down the loose section there between the high ridge and Bull Pasture was torture, but fun in it's own sorta scary "what am I doing here" way. I think every one of us slipped/slid/fell at least once. But none complained, none had to be carried and all were thrilled to breathe that sigh of relief when things flattened out again.

    Awesome hike! Thanks crew!
    Mount Ajo Peak
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    This was a backup trip Wendy scheduled for ABC - all backup plans should be this great!

    ...while not the hike I thot we were doing this weekend :-({|= , and while it involved bagging another peak for this non-peak bagger, and while it was windier than all get out -- up, up, up and up we went with my brother in tow for the longest and highest hike of his life. But now I believe he is primed for the Flatiron :lol: .

    This area really is beautiful. I've driven by it nearly every year since 1988 and it is so nice to go beyond the highway to see what the heck is out there; well in this case, "up" there. I didn't get a chance to research this hike before we came. That's probably a good thing, cuz in a couple spots, it's a tough haul whether you're climbing up and around the terrain or trying to prevent yourself from slip-sliding away on the way down. Wendy and John stayed ahead of us most of the time but waited at various spots along the way for us to catch up.

    There were so many highlights for this adventure including:
    the awesome organ pipe cactus,
    not really knowing :-k which peak was THE one (Ajo),
    the intriguing vegetation (especially the different cacti/succulents) and rock formations with the highlight being the Arch (oh and Wendy kind of fell IN the arch [-( :lol: ),

    the gusting wind that nearly blew you off the trail at times on the way up,
    the vista from our lunch spot nearly 1/2 way up,
    the smattering of vibrant paintbrush :) ,
    the false summits 8-[ (well I didn't say "good" highlights),
    the amazing views 8) from every direction once you hit the ridgeline including toward Baboquivari in the east,

    the surprising flora just before you make that last climb,
    MAKING the summit :y: cuz you can't turn back now,
    the even longer haul down due to the section where walking gingerly was required or you would end up on your fanny :stretch: - 3 of us did, Wayne didn't,

    the view back as the sun shone on the Ajo Range,
    the sun's rays slowly setting on the cactus as you made that last push down the last bit of elevation,
    the opening of lots of evening primrose along the trail.

    As for the camping, the highlights:
    the perfectly spiced brisket cooked on the charcoal grill,
    sleeping :zzz: under the stars (can't remember the last time I did that),
    and the company of course.

    Oh less we forget, we did shut down Lukeville on Saturday nite & then came back to camp to drink a mango refreshment and finishing off the butterscotch schnapps :-$ .

    Yep, it was a good day and night at the Organ Pipe Cactus NM.

    here is the movie of the movies:

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
    $8 fee per car for a 7 day pass. Backpacking and backcountry camping is not allowed at this time due to an increase in illegal border activity.. Camping is available in the two designated campgrounds only.

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To Estes Canyon Trailhead
    From Phoenix
    1. Take I-10 east until you reach the junction of Hwy 347 south to Maricopa AZ.
    2. Continue along Hwy 347 until it terminates at Hwy 84.
    3. Take Hwy 84 west until you join I-8 west towards Gila Bend AZ.
    4. When you reach Gila Bend, take Hwy 85 south towards Ajo AZ and the Mexican border.
    5. Continue on Hwy 85 passing through the towns of Ajo and Why before entering Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
    6. Obtain your day pass from the Visitor Center on the west side of Hwy 85, ~5 miles north of the Mexican Border.
    7. Take the Ajo Mountain Scenic Drive 11.4 miles to the Estes Canyon Picnic Area and Trailhead.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 159 mi - about 4 hours 0 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 154 mi - about 4 hours 12 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 288 mi - about 6 hours 0 mins
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

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