Deep in the heart of southern Arizona and just a few miles from the U.S./Mexico border lies an impressive national monument worth visiting. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a UNESCO biosphere reserve that tells the stories of ancient cultures that once lived here and the thriving animals and plants that still call the region home.

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Large Organ Pipe cactus at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Large Organ Pipe cactus at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ pipe, saguaro, and other types of cacti cover nearly every part of this 517-square-mile park. It is the northern-most natural habitat of the organ pipe cactus. There are some excellent hiking trails in the park around the visitor center and campground along Ajo Mountain Drive, in Alamo Canyon, and at Puerto Blanco Mountain. If hiking isn’t your thing, scenic drives and horseback riding are also popular things to do at Organ Pipe.

Dusty road in Senita Basin of Organ Pipe National Monument
Credit: Bigstock
Dusty road in Senita Basin of Organ Pipe National Monument

If you want to bring your dog along, be aware that there are only two dog-friendly trails here: Campground Perimeter Trail and the trail that extends from the campground to the visitor center. However, if you have a 4WD vehicle, you can drive on various back roads and hike along these peaceful corridors with your pup. It’s important to remember that summer temperatures often exceed 100-degrees Fahrenheit, so dress appropriately, bring lots of water, and plan your hike for early morning if possible.

Red ocotillo flower at Pinkley Peak in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Credit: Bigstock
Red ocotillo flower at Pinkley Peak in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

At first glance, the desert may seem dry and dead, but in fact, the desert is full of life and blooming with color. The park office offers many ranger programs throughout the year, including patio talks, van trips out to areas of interest, and evening presentations at the outdoor amphitheater. These are excellent opportunities to learn about this landscape and the rugged types of species that thrive here.

Tent camping in Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona
Credit: Bigstock
Tent camping in Organ Pipe National Monument in Arizona

Camping at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument offers a peaceful experience and a great way to see the epic sunrises and sunsets. The Twin Peaks Campground can accommodate both tents and RVs, and costs $16 per night. There are no hookups for RVs, but there is a fresh water station and a dump station that campers can use. Meanwhile, the Alamo Canyon Primitive Campground fee is $10, and backcountry camping costs $5 per trip.

A late evening sun glow in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Credit: Bigstock
A late evening sun glow in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The entrance fee to the park is $12 per vehicle for a 7-day pass for all vehicle occupants. The hiking trails and park roads are open 24/7, and the Kris Eggle Visitor Center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you have some extra time after your trip to the national monument, consider checking out Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge or Organ Pipe’s “sister park,” El Pinacate. You also can cross over the Mexican border at Lukeville and reach fun beach areas on the Mexico coast like Puerto Peñasco in about an hour and a half.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

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