TRIP DATES: Wednesday January 3 through Saturday morning January 6, 2018
LENGTH: 48 miles (including about 15 miles day hiking)
AVERAGE PACE: 2.3 mph
TOTAL ELEVATION LOSS & GAIN: 13,225 feet
TRAILHEAD(S): Kris Eggle Visitor Center
DIFFICULTY: Moderate on Ajo Peak social trail & cross-country; easy on Ajo Loop, Alamo Canyon and Old County roads.
BEST TIME TO HIKE: Usually Dec-March but check with Park Service 520-387-6849. January 2018 had high temperatures in 80s, far above norm of high 60s.
WATER: No reliable water. We found some in potholes of Estes Canyon near Bull Pasture Spring. We left 2-gallon jugs hidden near Alamo Canyon Campground to facilitate a hiking loop but National Park Service does not recommend this as Border Patrol may confiscate water.
SOLITUDE TIPS: Much solitude available anywhere off road or maintained trails. Old County Road may be heavily used by illegal migrants/others at night time but saw no one during the day. Maintained trails heavily used.
LEAVE NO TRACE: http://wilderness.org/article/leave-no-trace offers camping practices to protect the wilderness. We agree with most advice on this website except we have not found any research verifying the advice to pack a trowel and dig “cat hole” to bury waste 6 inches. Since many decomposing agents are in the top layers of soil, kick a shallow hole or lift a large rock and scuff soil or leaf litter on top. Desert soil can be very shallow or hard. Softer soil usually around trees.
BOOKS: Molvar, Erik. 2013 Hiking Arizona’s Cactus country (3rd ed.) Falcon Guides. (Section on Organ Pipe Monument includes maintained trails and Mt. Ajo route but nothing in wilderness).
MAPS: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Topographic Map. 2006. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. (includes wilderness with National Park Service numbered zones).
Backcountry Camping Regulations and map of permitted wilderness camp zones available at
GPS: We used Garmin 64st loaded with Garmin’s 1:24:000-scale Southwest map
ORGAN PIPE CACTUS NATIONAL MONUMENT:
WILDERNESS TRIP DETAILS