Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, The Snorin’ Desert
We had driven down towards, way towards, the Mexican border to the town of Ajo, Arizona to visit this greater wilderness area. We did not know what to expect. Our mind’s eye said it would be flat, indiscriminate desert with stands of the Organ Pipe Cactus, a unique, large, multi-columned cacti found only here in the US, then its range extending into Mexico. To our delight, we found mountains and some of the most dense desert vegetation we have yet experienced. Lots of green. Cholla, Ocotillo, many, many Saguaro, Ironwood, Palo Verde, Mesquite, Creosote Bush and more. One day we took a 3 mile hike through a part of it and the next we took a park ranger led 21 mile drive. It was terrific. This desert is rich in vegetation due to its unique two rainy seasons. In winter, there are the gentle rains that come in from the nearby Sea of Cortez/Baja Peninsula. In late summer, it becomes monsoon season as large swells of clouds form and dump heavy rains and accompanying flash floods to the area. Other than that, it is dry, dry. The plant life has adapted. The big cacti can store water when it comes and the other plant life can just live without. It really is a wonderful landscape and hard to put into words, so I will ask Cathy to add photos to this text before we publish it. Oh…this is the Sonoran Desert, and it sleeps quietly.