Ajo Tourist Attractions
The town of Ajo is two hours south of Phoenix, and just over two hours west of Tucson. Ajo was the birthplace of copper mining in Arizona, and is now a popular tourist destination and retirement community. It boasts a massive open pit copper mine, and is the gateway to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
The Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge covers 860,000 acres along the Mexican border, southwest of Ajo. Established in 1939, the refuge protects plants and animals indigenous to the area. Cabeza Prieta is Spanish for "Black Head", a reference to one of the peaks in the western corner.Cabeza Prieta has seven rugged mountain ranges and shares a portion of its border with Sonora, Mexico. Hiking, photography, wildlife observation, and primitive camping are the main activities.
Opening hours: Jun 1 to Aug 31: 7:30am-12pm, 1pm-4:30pm
Sep 1 to May 31: 7:30am-4:30pm
Sep 1 to May 31: 7:30am-4:30pm
Entrance fee: FREE
The Devil's Highway crosses the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona. It was established in 1774 by the Spanish Conquistador de Anza, but earned its name from travelers who died during the California Gold Rush.
New Cornelia Open Pit Mine
The Ajo copper mines were opened in 1916 after the discovery of precious metals in the local mountains. Today the open pit extends for nearly two miles, and can be viewed from the Mine Lookout on Indian Village Road. There is a visitor center which contains a video and display of the mining operations.
Ajo Historical Society Museum
The Ajo Historical Society Museum is housed in the old Saint Catherine's Indian Mission and features exhibits on Old West history. Displays include a complete blacksmith shop, a dentist's office and an early print shop.
The surroundings of Ajo include the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and the town of Why.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
In southwestern Arizona, on the frontier with Mexico, is Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, in which are three distinct desertic vegetation zones with some 30 different species of cactus, in particular the characteristic organ pipe cactus, up to 23ft/7m high, which blooms from May to July but because of the great heat during the day opens up its flowers only after sunset. The area can be explored on various roads and hiking trails.There are two scenic drives of note. The Ajo Mountain Drive and the Puerto Blanco Drive.
Address: 10 Organ Pipe Drive, Ajo, AZ 85321-9626, United States
Opening hours: 8am-5pm
Always closed on: Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in USD: $4.00, Vehicle plus all occupants $8.00
Useful tips: Springtime is the best time to visit. Hours apply to the Visitor Center.
Ajo Mountain Drive
The Ajo Mountain Drive winds through 21 miles of foothills and desert landscape in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, taking approximately two hours to complete.Activities that can be enjoyed on Ajo Mountain Drive include wildlife viewing, nature study, bird-watching, picnicking, hiking, camping and backpacking.
Useful tips: Motorhomes more than 25 feet long should not travel these unpaved roads. Trailers are also not recommended. Guide books available at visitor center. Carry emergency tools, drinking water and extra water for your vehicle. Stay away from flooded areas. Never drive off the road.
Typical Visit: 2 hours
Puerto Blanco Mountain Drive
The Puerto Blanco Drive, 53 miles, circles the Puerto Blanco Mountains, the desert oasis of Quitobaquito, and a great deal of Sonoran Desert country, taking half a day.
Useful tips: Motorhome more than 25 feet long should not travel these unpaved roads. Trailers are also not recommended. Guide books available at visitor center. Carry emergency tools, drinking water and extra water for your vehicle. Stay away from flooded areas. Never drive off the road.
Typical Visit: 6 hours
Lukeville is a small town within Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The town has an international border crossing into Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico.
The small town of Why is named for the Y-shaped junction of highways 85 and 86, south of Ajo.