Thursday – April 9, 2015
Puerto Blanco Drive
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
We took an auto tour of the South Puerto Blanco Drive today. This is a 19-mile drive on a graded, very rough, washboard-type, dirt road that runs parallel to the international border with Mexico. 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, but the road is so rutted we had to limit our speed to 5 mph. Because of the rough road conditions, we limited our tour to the 5-mile segment from Arizona Highway 85 to Senita Basin Road.
Since the South Puerto Blanco Drive is so close to the border with Mexico, it is patrolled frequently by the Border Patrol and Park Rangers. Warning signs are posted alerting visitors that drug smugglers and illegal immigrants may be encountered in the area.
There is a 5.2-mile pedestrian fence and a 30-mile vehicle barrier that runs along the southern boundary of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument with the border of Mexico. 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.
This is such a desolate area, infested with deadly rattlesnakes, scorpions, coyotes, mountain lions and prickly cactus plants, it boggles the mind how illegal immigrants and drug smugglers survive, snaking their way through this hostile environment with limited food, water and shelter.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.