Ajo, Organ Pipe & Sunset

We camped north of Organ Pipe National Monument in the town of Ajo, Arizona, and as we headed back down to the park for Day 2 of exploration, we stumbled upon the “Sonoran Shindig” going on in the Ajo town square. It was well worth a stop!

Various groups danced in traditional costumes, the music was great fun, and we checked out some of the booths. A number of state and federal park and wildlife organizations were there to answer questions, and we found out about a rare chance to see the sunset from the top of Childs Mountain overlooking the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge later that evening. We met some Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) guys from Luke AFB – awesome.

It was also interesting to see different attitudes about barriers along the US-Mexican border. There were some humanitarian groups concerned about the number of refugees dying in the desert, wildlife people concerned about disrupted migration patterns for animals, and native groups whose land exist on both sides of the border.

We were anxious to get back down to the Organ Cactus National Monument – we wanted to hike up to Bull Pasture and the day was getting warmer. The hike was a bit steeper than we expected, but the views were well worth the effort!

In addition to the organ pipe and saguaro cactus, we saw lots of cholla. Some were starting to produce fruit…

…some hosting a nest for birds…

…and some providing camouflage for Jim. Just don’t get close since some cholla like to try to hitch a ride.

More Mexican poppies were in bloom along this trail, a sure sign of the rain/snow that fell on the park the week before.

And when we got back to the truck, this canyon towhee hopped around and puffed up at me – I don’t know why, but he sure was cute.

We hustled down the mountain so we could get back to Ajo and meet up with the ranger from the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge for the sunset view. A group of us drove in a caravan up Childs Mountain just outside of Ajo, through the gates normally locked because the Refuge shares the mountain with the Air Force, as you can see by the radar dome on the far left. Sweeping views of the landscape kept changing as the sun dropped lower…

…until the sun set. I wish I had a conch horn to blow.

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