Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The Sonoran Desert continues to amaze us! Our recent stay near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument reaffirmed that sentiment.

Still taking advantage of our new solar energy, we boondocked just south of Why, AZ on free BLM land for eight days. This would be base camp for daily excursions to the surrounding area. These day trips included several forays into Organ Pipe National Monument proper, exploring the quaint little community of Ajo and walks in the desert from our campsite on Gunsight Wash.

The final two nights of our ten-day visit were spent camped in the Twin Peaks Campground within the national monument.

During our time staying near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument we had signs everywhere warning us about smugglers and illegal immigrants. Though we never came in contact with anyone fitting the sign descriptions, there were reminders everywhere that the area is frequently crossed in the surrounding desert. From black plastic water bottles and clothing laying around out in the desert, to the constant patrolling of border patrol agents by helicopter or patrol vehicles.

One day driving back to our RV parked in Gunsight Wash, we saw a government drone flying up a wash behind our campsite. They don’t look like the typical drones people can buy to do aerial shots, it looked like a small jet racing quietly up the wash.

Another evening we were returning from inside the national park because Patricia was shooting photos of a sunset. We saw dozens of lights that appeared to be hovering and spotlighting a hillside in the distance. Later we learned it could have been a military drill because Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Gunnery Range was nearby and would sometimes perform night drills.

We also heard stories of illegal immigrants approaching campers for water. My parents, who are snowbirds have stayed in Gunsight Wash several times. One time they were approached by a man who came across the border, asking for water. They said they gave him water plus a little something to eat and he was one his way.

During our stay at Gunsight Wash and at the Twin Peaks Campground, we never felt unsafe. We would definitely return one day. I’ll admit we had no idea about the warning signs of smugglers or illegals until a friend asked Patricia if it was safe there. She did some Googling and found some interesting background to why there are so many border agents in that area now.

The coolest experience we had during our time out at Gunsight Wash is when we had a pack of coyotes close to our RV howling and yipping for three nights in a row. It was incredibly loud! Though we had heard the sound of coyotes many times in the past, this is the first time we had heard so many, so close serenading us right at our campsite!