Ajo Mountain Loop

Ajo, Arizona (Pima County)

Last Updated: 01/12/2022
3 / 5 ( 5 reviews )
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Highlight: Ajo Mountain Loop
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was created in 1937 as a way to preserve a representative area of the Sonoran Desert. The new monument was part of a movement in the National Parks to protect not just scenic wonders but also the ecological wonders of the country. Over 75 years later, Organ Pipe Cactus is now one of the best preserved examples of the Sonoran Desert wilderness. Within the monument, signs of human use are also preserved and protected. The monument is the site of culture and history that reflect long, widespread and diverse use by American Indian, Mexican, and European groups. The intersection of these three cultures is significant archeologically, geographically, and internationally. Gentle spring rains, turbulent summer skies, and the penetrating sun set the stage at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Volcanic layered mountains, ribbons of washes and expansive valleys are the backdrop for this International Biosphere Reserve. Species of plants and animals that have adapted to desert life present themselves in daily and nocturnal performances. Take a front row seat along a scenic drive, a wilderness hike, or camping among the stars. Over a hundred miles of scenic drives, dozens of miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, new exhibits and ranger programs help you experience, observe, and explore the American Desert. Source: http://www.nps.gov/orpi/learn/index.htm


Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
2WD Vehicle with High Clearance
This is a well groomed gravel road without any hazards.

Technical Rating

Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 5" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 5" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 6" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep, but with good traction.
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Community Consensus

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This is more of a scenic drive then an off road trail. It is a groomed gravel road that traverses the Organ Pipe National Monument area. It has numerous scenic vistas, picnic areas and hiking trails along the route. A permit is required for all vehicles travelling on the route. You can pick up a permit at the Rangers Station at the entrance to the park, directly across the road from the trailhead.
The trail is close to the southern border.


1. TRAILHEAD ( mi)
After obtaining the required permit at the Ranger station, begin the loop by crossing highway 85 through the gate and onto the dirt road. There are large mile marker signs all along the ONE-WAY route. Please ensure that you do not turn around to return to the beginning. The route must be ran in one direction.
2. INFO BOARDS ( mi)
Please note all the signs and message boards in the area. There are quite a few things to read along the route. The beginning has warnings and other important information you should read before beginning your journey into this specific desert area.
On the left is a covered picnic area with great views of the surrounding area. No facilities at this location.
4. ARCH CANYON ( mi)
You will see the large canyon coming into view as you approach the area. There is a large parking area that can be used while you hike this incredible canyon and possibly climb up to the arch of which the trail is named. Look up high to see the natural wonder.
Estes Canyon picnic area is another wayside sheltered table area. This one does have vault type toilets. There is another great hiking trail that is roughly 3.5 miles long. It climbs over 1000 feet to the top for views that stretch for 20 miles in all directions.
6. TRAIL END ( mi)
When you travel roughly 21 miles you will come to a stop sign. Turn left, southwest at the stop sign, returning to highway 85, turning right will begin the loop again.

Directions to Trailhead

From the NORTH: follow Arizona Highway 85 through Ajo and Why. The Monument entrance is four miles from Why. The Kris Eggle Visitor Center is 22 miles (35.4 km) south of Why. From the EAST: take Arizona Highway 86 to Why, then turn left on Arizona Highway 85, heading south. From the WEST: follow I-8 to Gila Bend or I-10 to Buckeye, then turn south on Arizona Highway 85. From Sonoyta, MEXICO: travel north towards Lukeville, AZ on Mexico Route 2. The Kris Eggle Visitor Center is five miles north of Lukeville on Highway 85.


Senior and Access passes are honored for a 50% discount on individual campsites. •Twin Peaks Campground: $16 per night Tent and RV camping. No reservations- first come, first served basis. More> •Alamo Canyon Primitive Campground: $10 per night Primitive tent camping. More> •Backcountry Camping: $5 per permit Register in person at Kris Eggle Visitor Center. More> •Group Camping Available by reservation, contact the visitor center at 520-387-6849 x7302 for more information. No senior or access pass discounts on group sites. http://www.nps.gov/orpi/planyourvisit/fees.htm
Camping: Ajo Mountain Loop

Trail Reviews (5)

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Writer Information

Bobby Nelson

Mapping Crew - Arizona

While living in the Midwest, I developed a passion for searching out new trails and hidden spots. That passion continues to this day in the beautiful southwestern United States. My wife and I are full-time RVers who travel from region to region, exploring every nook and cranny we can find. While we're getting to know the locals, we gain insight into these areas then pass on that knowledge to our subscribers. We truly enjoy traversing long, beautiful back-country routes with epic campsites, but we equally enjoy pushing the limits on challenging rock crawling trails. Our rig was built to do everything, and that's what we hope to share with our subscribers. Please visit our website https://www.xploremor.net to follow us and for opportunities to join us on our adventures. You can also view our vast video library on YouTube. Xploremor YouTube
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