Organ Pipe National Monument - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

February 14, 2021

Organ Pipe National Monument

So first off, I want to thank all our CycleBlaze friends who insisted that we consider a detour to Organ Pipe National Monument as long as we were down here.  I’m pretty certain we wouldn’t have made it here otherwise.  It’s quite out of the way unless you’re heading south into Mexico, and with no paved roads it looks unpromising for the kind of riding we do.

Thanks to the encouragement of others though, we decided to stay over a second night in Ajo and visit the monument on a day trip.  We planned to take the bikes and be open-minded - if the roads seemed reasonably well surfaced we’d bike within the park; otherwise we’d take a hike and then maybe bike along Route 85 for a ways.

With my toe injury, a hike and a cycle were off the plan though; so we played like normal tourists for a day and just took the Raven for a spin along Ajo Mountain Drive, stopping frequently at pullouts to look around.  The loop is only 29 miles long, but we spent about four hours on it.  It’s mostly unpaved, and suitable for driving at about 15 mph; so you can see we spent a lot of time stopped.  It was quite cold and windy, and we were happy to have been forced by circumstance to viewing it from the warmth and comfort of our new car, stepping out often to look around before dashing back inside.

So, with no biking and no hiking, this is just a generally uncaptioned photo gallery to encourage you to go yourself.  You should, if you’re in the region.  Our friends were right - it’s an incredible place.

And, FYI, the toe is doing great - or as great as that ugly plum-hued appendage could be expected to be doing two days post-injury.  It’s still purplish, but the discoloration is fading fast; and it’s feeling just shy of normal.  I’m optimistic that I’ll be ready for an easy spin on the bike when we get to Borrego Springs.

The Catholic Church, Ajo.
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The Catholic Church, a man and his dog.
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The tower of the Curley School. Remarkably this was originally a public school, built in 1919 in the Spanish colonial style. It’s been renovated and reopened in 2007 as a complex of live/work apartments for artisans and creative home businesses.
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A Harris’s hawk, one of a pair in Ajo Plaza.
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The drive south on Route 85, the road to the monument and beyond into Mexico. Seeing this and the complete absence of a shoulder, we were glad we weren’t planning to bike any of it. There’s more traffic than seen here, and it’s moving fast.
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On Ajo Mountain Road, allegedly the most scenic route through the park. Mostly unpaved, but it looks like it would be fine for cycling with the right bike, legs (very steep in spots), and attitude.
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At the lower elevations, away from the mountains, saguaro predominates.
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As we gain elevation we start seeing organ pipes. A striking and graceful plant, it has many appearances.
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We fell in love with this colorful peak, stopping every quarter mile to look again from a new angle.
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Lednar De NallohThat's a great photo..gobsmacking. So colourful too, love to go back there one day. Your photos must be driving your snow bound compatriots insanely jealous.
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1 week ago
The ocotillo was bright green and in bloom. There must have been a fairly recent rain here.
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Bill ShaneyfeltSweet! Mammillaria are so cute! Might be the same fishhook cactus species you photographed for me earlier.

https://www.cactiguide.com/cactus/?genus=Mammillaria&species=grahamii
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2 weeks ago
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Double arch, if you look closely enough. The upper one is just a filament.
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Bill ShaneyfeltSmartly dressed for your visit!
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2 weeks ago
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Bill ShaneyfeltYup! Neat photos! Glad you dropped down there for a visit.
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2 weeks ago
Bill StoneNice photos. Glad you enjoyed your drive on the Mt Ajo loop. If anyone is interested, I pedaled that loop two years ago:

http://bike365.org/bike/20190226/
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill StoneThanks for adding the link. I remember when you took this ride, and the ones from the following two days. It sounds like it was just as quiet when you were there. Quite an exceptional place.
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1 week ago
Graham FinchAmazing cacti pics! They look quite alien.
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1 week ago
Andrea BrownWe just had the brief drive through on our way to Mexico but I thought this area was enchanting.
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1 week ago