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Quitobaquito Springs
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mini location map2014-03-14
30 by photographer avatarRandal_Schulhauser
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Quitobaquito SpringsSouthwest, AZ
Southwest, AZ
Hiking avatar Mar 14 2014
Hiking11.08 Miles 560 AEG
Hiking11.08 Miles   10 Hrs      1.11 mph
560 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Quitobaquito Springs - Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (ORPI) March 14, 2014

11.08 miles (22,893 steps)
560 AEG (56 floors)

NOTE: previous attempt to visit Quitobaquito back on 19Feb2008 was thwarted by a "border incident" :next:
Puerto Blanco Loop on HAZ :next: Quitobaquito Springs on HAZ :next:
Dripping Springs on HAZ :next:

Received message from Ranger Krystina and Ranger Jimmy that they had an opening on their last planned tour of the season to historic Quitobaquito Springs straddling the US and Mexican border, just west of Lukeville AZ and Sonoyta Mexico. Packed my F-150 with the necessary gear and headed down to ORPI Thursday evening. Arrived 11-ish that evening and grabbed a choice campsite (#199). NPS annual pass came in handy again to waive the $8 park entrance fee as I placed $12 into my campsite self-register envelope. Lights from Sonoyta Mexico lit up the skies to the south while a full moon lit up the sky directly above. With shadows cast from the full moon, took a stroll along the Perimeter Trail (HAZ :next: ) and Palo Verde Trail (HAZ :next: ). Chugged a Young's Double Chocolate and devoured a Subway Black Forest Ham $5 Footlong before calling it a night on the backseat floor of my F-150...

Arrived at the ORPI Visitor Center promptly Friday morning at 7:30am to complete the orientation course and sign the requisite waivers.

15 approved "Special Access" Trekkers piled into 2 vans and formed a convoy led by an Armed Security Ranger 4x4 and followed by a Border Patrol 4x4 that headed south along Hwy85 towards the border at Lukeville. We veered off to the west about half a mile from the border onto Puerto Blanco Loop (road closed to public).

Side note, sadly Puerto Blanco Loop has been closed to the public since 2004 (check out HAZ :next: and ... drive.html and ... ve&f=false ). It's hoped that little experiments like Ranger guided trips to Quitobaquito and Dripping Springs are baby steps to reopen the Puerto Blanco Loop...

The drive along Puerto Blanco Loop is a study in contrasts - wilderness vs. urban, affluence vs. poverty, first-world vs third-world, peace vs. war, beauty vs. ugly, passive vs. aggressive. After bouncing along Puerto Blanco Loop for about 15 miles paralleling the Mexican border, we arrive at our target destination - Quitobaquito Springs!

Our host "Interpretive" Ranger, Sardius Stalker, proceeds to give us a summary of the natural history of Quitobaquito - of how the site has been an important watering hole from the Sand Papago (Hia'Ced O'odham) along their ancient salt trade routes through to 1850's gold seekers along the el Camino del Diablo to early 1900's adventurers such as William Hornday and the last permanent settlers, the Orosco Family, bought out by the National Park Service in 1957 for $13,000.

I've given Joe a PDF copy of a 1990 document from University of Arizona documenting the cultural and natural history of Quitobaquito. Check out :next:

Ranger Stalker had warned us that there would be armed rangers in the vicinity and asked that we refrained from taking their photographs for security reasons. I've included an NPS stock photo to honour the request. I stumbled upon a couple of them towards the end of our tour (ok - I'm sure it was meant to be part of the "experience" making themselves visible as we were wrapping up our Quito portion of the tour).

I had a chance to see a Sonoyta Mud Turtle juvenile up close (shell about the size of a silver dollar - sorry, buried itself in the mud before I could capture photographic evidence) as well as dozens of the rare Quitobaquito Pupfish (about an inch long).

The "leaning" cottonwood tree that emanates from the earthen dam creating Quitobaquito Pond is a unique story unto itself. First off, this tree is the iconic image for Quitobaquito (I mentally had it burned into my brain prior to arriving creating one of those "it looks just like the photograph" moments...).

Travel to the spring was ~45 minutes; we spent about 2 hours circumnavigating the spring, and another ~45 minute return journey to the ORPI Visitor Center. With the noon-ish return hour, I decided to head to Arch Canyon to have lunch and explore another area in ORPI...

"Twelve miles from Sonoyta we came to Quitovaquita, and but for its glorious spring of clear and cold water pouring out of a rocky hole in the foot of a granite mountain, the memory of the place would not be pleasant. In the suburbs lay the remnants of two dead coyotes that had been poisoned. One was a big, handsome red fellow, with a fine brush - far handsomer than any other that we saw on the trip. It was a pity that he was too far gone to find his way into a museum. Near him lay a fellow victim that was smaller, all gray with no red, and not nearly so handsome.

Although Quitovaquita was entirely quiet and inoffensive, it's atmosphere was depressing. It is one of the spots in which I would not like to die, and would hate to live. Of its eight houses, only four were inhabited, and the others were crumbling to the inevitable ruin that in every vacant adobe house follows swiftly upon the heels of the departed tenant. The waters of the spring have made a pond, but it looks stagnant and unwholesome. There are trees growing about the place, and a sprinkling of brush along the brook of the spring; but the settlement is not inviting. Perhaps this is because the little hamlet is a hybrid - neither Mexican nor American. The spring is American, by only about a hundred feet, but the boundary runs right through the heart of the city. The spring irrigates one field, which is duly fenced against cattle and burros, but the waters of the Sonoyta River are not utilized.

Strange to say, we found that two Americans were living in that lonesome, stagnant, out-of-the-way place. One was our newest friend and companion-in-arms, Mr. Ruben Daniels, and the other was a Mr. Childs."

From p122 of my original 1908 book "CAMP FIRES ON DESERT AND LAVA" by William T. Hornaday.

Maybe el Pinicate (the Mexican "sister park" to Organ Pipe Cactus NM) will be next on the "to do" list :next:
Or mountain biking the 21 mile Ajo Mountain Loop Drive :next: ... biking.htm

BACKGROUNDERS; ... ations.htm :next: camping is $12 on first come, first serve basis... Camp ground map :next: ... %20Map.pdf ... aquito.htm ... e6c.html#0 ... 42614.html

CY2009 border impact study at ORPI :next: ... mpacts.pdf

The Atlantic 40 photo border essay :next: ... er/100510/

Sonoyta Mud Turtle :next:

Quitobaquito Pupfish :next: ... upfish.pdf

Sent from my iPad

On Mar 11, 2014, at 10:45 AM, "Schulhauser, Randal" wrote:

Nice chatting with you today. I'll see you 7:30-ish Friday morning at the ORPI Visitor Center ready for orientation and waivers...

Cell 480.292.4689

Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 11, 2014, at 8:41 AM, "Webster, Krystina" wrote:

Hi, Randal,

I just heard Jimmy, who works at our front desk say you can called and a couple of spots did open up for Friday's tour. He tried calling you back and left you a message, but we do need to talk to you to finalize you getting the two spots.

If you can't reach us directly by phone, please let me know when a good time to call is so we can confirm your spots!


Krystina Webster

Park Ranger- Interpreter

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

520-387-6849 x7304
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated
brittlebush, desert marigold, jackass clover, desert asters

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Quitobaquito Springs Gallon + per minute Gallon + per minute
steady flow from the source estimated to be 10+ gallons/minute
HAZ Member
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