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Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Hello and welcome back to our channel!
We’re here today at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: the 14th stop on our
journey to visit all 400+ National Park units in the US. What’s
special about this park is that it is the only place the United States where you
can see the Organ Pipe Cactus in its natural habitat.
It is also UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. As always we start our
visit at the Visitor Center – here named as Chris Eggle Visitor Center. In 2002
park ranger Chris Eggle was shot and killed by a suspected drug smuggler
during a U.S. Border Patrol operation. As a result 70% of the monument was closed
between 2003 and 2014. The visitor center was renamed in his honor.
During that time a new vehicle barrier was installed, a pedestrian fence was
constructed around the Lukeville port of entry, new border technology was deployed
and Ajo Border Patrol station was expanded. There are now five hundred
Border Patrol agents stationed in Ajo, a 20-fold increase. Finally on September 15
2014 the area was deemed safe enough that Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
was fully reopened. Today the armed guards have gone but National Park
Service staff educates visitors about the area so they can decide whether they
feel comfortable exploring the backcountry. Nowadays the biggest risk to
visitors are likely dehydration and rattlesnakes. This is a barrel cactus
with the fruit on top! After the Visitor Center we got situated at the Twin Peaks
campground and so far it looks amazing! And now we’ll head out and do the Ajo
Mountain Drive. Ajo mountain drive is the most popular scenic drive in the Organ
Pipe Cactus National Monument. The 21 mile drive is mostly on a dirt road but
the normal 2WD car would have no problems. However, RVs over 24 feet are
prohibited. I highly recommend picking up the free Ajo Mountain Drive guide guidebook
from the visitor center. It has information that corresponds to markers
along the road. We stopped frequently at these markers to learn about the area
and take photos. The Ajo Mountain Drive is worth it just for the drive around
but there are also several trailheads along the road. Organ Pipe Cactus National
Monument preserves 517 square-mile area which is a pristine
example of the Sonoran Desert. So we are in a Sonoran Desert. How many deserts are
there in the United States? Before we’ve seen the Chihuahua desert. This is Sonoran Desert. What are the other two? So the other two desert our Great Basin desert
and Mojave Desert. [🎵] This is Organ Pipe Cactus but it looks
interesting. It has this crested growth on it and scientists don’t know why it
is that way. Some guesses are that it could be because of the frost or it
could be because of genetic mutation. [🎵] Look what we found! We found a blooming
cactus! This is the first cacti flowers that we have seen. [🎵] We just finished the
Arch trail hike off of the Ajo Mountain Drive. We just went 0.6 miles in and 0.6 miles out. And it was beautiful, it was covered with wildflowers and
we even saw cactus with flowers too. We are just past stop number 11 on the Ajo Mountain Drive and we parked here now after a brief respite in the car with the AC
because it’s pretty warm out here. We’re gonna do the Estes Canyon Trail and
this is about a 2.6 mile circular loop but there is an option for
another little half-mile in and a half mile back
spur about half way round which would make it 3.6 miles. Let’s go! [footsteps] Here we have the namesake of the Organ
Pipe Cactus National Monument: the Organ Pipe Cactus! It was named by the early
Europeans that arrived to this area and for them the dry carcasses of this
cactus reminded the organs. That’s why they called it the Organ Pipe Cactus. Fun fact!
These cacti bloom but they bloom only at night. This is so that they can preserve
water. Let’s take a closer look at this Organ Pipe Cactus, shall we? This is a Teddybear Cholla. Look how tall
they are! Even taller than me! Check out this one!
It looks like this one has a nest in it. The Cholla
protects the bird. [🎵] We’ve made it here to the top. We took
the extra little spur and we’ve come all the way up to the viewpoint here which is the
highest point on this hike. And you know that means! It’s all downhill from here! [🎵] We just finished the Estes Canyon and
Bull Canyon loop. We went to the viewpoint and back. It was four miles and just about
two and a half hours. [🎵] We made it back to the camp before dark. We managed to do
both hikes and the whole Ajo Mountain Drive loop in four and a half hours. Tomorrow is going to be another early start. We’re gonna get up nice and early
and hopefully do a hike right around dawn and then do a sunset hike later
on in the day. So that’s going to be really good fun. And then finally our third day
here, third and final day here, we’re getting to go out off-roading. So if you
enjoyed this video make sure to hit that like button and subscribe to see the
next one. Okay Look baby organs! Look, Organ Pipe Cactus with baby arms coming out! I don’t even know whether they are arms.
[Matt] They are not called baby organs, that’s all I know! Okay, whatever. Another fun fact, they do bloom but they only bloom at night. This is so that
they preserve the water and don’t have to… whatever… These cacti bloom but they bloom only
at night. This is so that they… I don’t know what they…
[Matt] .. to preserve water.

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10 thoughts on “Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

  1. Thanks for sharing and I learned a lot from your video. Great video. Love seeing all the flowers. πŸ’– πŸ‘ πŸ‘

  2. Thanks for you videos, I'm really enjoying them! Just discovered your channel yesterday. I live in California's Monterey Bay area and will be doing a two week Southwest road trip in October. I plan on visiting a few national parks throughout my journey and am curious about the book you're using to put the national park stamps in. Can you let me know what the book is called and if it can be purchased on Amazon?

  3. What a terrific video! The videography was excellent! I felt like I was there for the hike with you both! You both look wonderful and in good health and that is translated into your video. Thank you as always for giving the viewers such a breath of fresh air and making us feel like we are there with you both! Take the best of care and of course, looking forward to the next adventure! Ciao Bella!

  4. Hi, Living the Silver Life, here, and Bill and I just love your channel. We became full time RVers in April and are loving it too. Enjoy watching your adventures. Beautiful hike!

  5. Loved the video! The cacti blooms were beautiful and as always, thank you for taking me with you! Diana, you looked very pretty and y'all weren't as pale. I can tell y'all are getting more comfortable talking to the camera. I love all the info! Can't wait for the next.πŸ’πŸ’ž

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