Sunday – April 5, 2015
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
We departed the Gilbert Ray Campground in Tucson, Arizona at 12:40 p.m. We arrived at the Twin Peaks Campground at 3:45 p.m. This is a beautiful campground located within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The campground has 208 campsites (no hookups), six restroom facilities with flush toilets. Three of the restrooms have solar heated showers that are free to use. There is one dump station. There are numerous potable water spigots dispersed throughout the campground. Campsites have concrete pads and can accommodate up to 40 foot RV’s. Campsites 1 through 128 permit the use of a generator. Campsites 129 through 174 do not allow the use of a generator. Campsites 175 through 208 are for tent camping only.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is located in extreme southern Arizona, which shares a border with the Mexican state of Sonora. The park is the only place in the United States where the Organ Pipe Cactus grows wild. Along with Organ Pipe, many other types of cacti, as well as other desert flora native to the Yuma Desert section of the Sonoran Desert region grow here. The Park is a beautiful preservation of the American Southwest.
Land for the Monument was donated by the Arizona state legislature to the federal government during Prohibition, knowing that the north-south road would be improved and make contraband alcohol easier to import from Mexico. In 1937 the land was officially opened as a national monument.
At the north entrance of the park (approximately 20 miles) is the city of Why, Arizona. The town of Lukeville, Arizona, sits at the park's southern border. Lukeville is a border crossing point to Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico.
On August 9, 2002, Ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed by a suspected Mexican drug smuggler during a United States Border Patrol operation. The visitor center has been named in his honor.
In 2004, the Department of the Interior, National Park Service, along with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection worked together to provide more security to the park’s border areas. What used to be a barbed wire fence between Mexico and the United States is now a 30-mile vehicle barrier. There is also a 5.2-mile pedestrian fence. The vehicle barrier is designed to stop vehicles from driving around the U.S. Customs offices in Lukeville on Arizona Highway 85, or up through the desert wilderness instead of Highway 85. The barrier has reduced the illegal entry of vehicles and nearly eliminated high-speed pursuits on Highway 85. Radio and watch towers aid in the tracking and apprehension of illegal smugglers.
During our travel on Arizona highways 86 and 85 we saw numerous Border Patrol agents patrolling the highways in their specially designed four-wheel drive pickup trucks, and also patrolling the desert on ATV’s. At least every five minutes, a Border Patrol agent passed by our vehicle on the highway. On both highways we had to go through a Border Patrol checkpoint station. Border security in this part of Arizona appears to be very tightly controlled.
Campground: Twin Peaks
Camping Fee: $12.00 (50% discount with Golden Age Pass)
Total miles traveled today: 143
West on Arizona Highway 86
South on Arizona Highway 85 to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
West on Puerto Blanco Drive to Twin Peaks Campground
Tomorrow another adventure begins.