Wednesday – April 8, 2015
AJO Mountain Drive
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
We took an auto tour of the AJO (pronounced AH-ho) Mountain Drive today. This is a 21-mile drive on a graded dirt road, kind of rough in spots, through the valley of the Diablo Mountains. The road is suitable for high clearance vehicles, without four-wheel drive. We had no problem traversing the road in our Ford E-150 Cargo Van. We drove the route between 10 and 15 mph.
The AJO Mountain Drive takes the visitor through desert terrain filled with an abundance of saquaro, organ pipe and cholla cacti, surrounded by the majestic rock formations of the Diablo mountains, rising high above the desert floor.
We discovered firsthand how careful you have to be when venturing out into the desert. On one of our stops we got out to walk through a "forest" of cholla (pronounced CHOY-yuh) cactus. Suddenly, I heard Sharon yell out in pain. A large ball of spines from the cholla cactus was embedded into the side of her left ankle.
We subsequently discovered that cholla cactus reproduce by attaching their spines to animals (and humans too!) that venture too close to them. Eventually the spines become dislodged and promote new growth. Lesson learned! We now give the alluring, beautiful, cholla cactus a wide berth on our treks through the desert.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.