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Visiting Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

If you go

THE BEST WAY TO ARIZONA

From LAX, US Airways, Southwest and United offer nonstop service to Phoenix, and United, American and US Airways offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares begin at $208, including taxes and fees. United, Southwest and American offer nonstop service to Tucson, and US Airways and Southwest offer connecting service. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $222, including taxes and fees.

WHAT TO DO

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Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, https://www.nps.gov/orpi. The vehicle entrance fee is $8, which is good for a week. Each night at Alamo Canyon costs $8. Gas, water and other supplies are available at Ajo or at Lukeville, on the border. Winter and early spring are the best times to visit. The desert heat begins to make an appearance in May; temperatures begin to cool again after November. In the early part of the year, visitors can expect mild days and chilly nights.

The park sits on a 33-mile stretch of Arizona’s border with Mexico. About two-thirds of the park is off-limits to most visitors. Though tourists are rarely in danger, the park’s rural nature and lack of population have made it attractive to drug smugglers and others attempting to sneak into the country, resulting in the restrictions. Despite that, I have never once felt at risk visiting the area, nor have I seen signs of illegal activity.

The Border Patrol has several checkpoints in the area, one of them at the park’s northern entrance. Visitors from outside the U.S. or visa holders should carry documents with them to show at the checkpoint.


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