Friday, February 18, 2011

New Favorite NP: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

(Why, AZ) First a side note…I’ve been noticing there are a great many of these little roadside shrines in this part Southern Arizona.


These are not just roadside memorials to car accident victims like we often see in the Midwest.  I found an article here explaining that these are a unique Southern Arizona cultural icons, called capillatas or grutus.

We’ll remember Tuesday as one of our best exploring days ever.

Our plan was to do a combination of driving tour and hiking.  We started by registering at the first fee area we came to in the park.  The fee is $4 but if you had the geezer (Golden Age/Senior) pass it’s free.  You still have to register though and get  the tag for the vehicle.  This is an honor system at fee stations but we’re told rangers will look for the tags in the window and stop you if you don’t have one.




From Hwy 85 we headed east on a dirt road in to Alamo Canyon.








At the end of the road is the Alamo Canyon Campground.  There are four rustic campsites here that have an absolutely gorgeous setting.  The photo below is of site#4.   These are only available if you are in truck camper, van or tent but if you are, wow!, this is the place.


The only ‘convenience’ at this campground is a pit toilet which also happens to be conveniently located at the Alamo Canyon Trailhead.


This 2 mile trail was our chosen adventure for the morning.





We found out later that we apparently missed the notice that this trail is off-limits to dogs.  The reason is the teddy bear cholla along the path.

These sneaky little cactus are sometimes also called ‘jumping’ cholla because those little balls of spikes like you see on the ground seem to almost jump on to you as you go by.  There are some real horror stories of dogs getting these lodged in their mouths or stuck through their paws.  We were very attentive to these and Ken used his walking stick to keep the furkids well away from these unfriendly plants.


It was surprising how colorful the desert can be with the beautiful variations in stone against all the different greens of the bushes and cactus.







We were amazed how the cactus could grow on what looked like nothing but rock.










The trail leads in to the canyon to what was once a small ranch.  Ken spent some time inspecting the construction.

We tried to imagine what it would be like to live so far from anything, especially in the intense heat of the summer.  It did seem to be much cooler in the canyon


Ok, is it just me or can you see the little soccer player here heading the ball?



We carried water in for us and the dogs.

While Ditka and Sox  had no problems with ‘attacking’ vegetation, it became apparent at 1.5 miles that Ditka was struggling much more than we’d expected.  It was obvious by the time we were back at the jeep that he was done for the day.  In fact, I’m sad to say  that a result of his hip problems, I think Ditka’s hiking days may be over. 




Well, I have so many more pictures of this great day, that I’ve decided to stop the blog at this point and save the driving tour for next blog.

Hugs, C

1 comment:

Russ Krecklow said...

Great pictures. Thanks so much for sharing.