Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Amazing Ajo


I wasn’t expecting much.  A few RVers had told me there was “nothing out there except illegals” and there were plenty of better places in Arizona to boondock.  But, Ajo was only 2 hours from Tucson and I’d never been there before, so I decided to make it my weekend destination.  Perhaps those RVers were discouraging me because they didn’t want me to know the secret….that sleepy little Ajo, that seems to be miles from anything, is actually a wonderful place to spend a weekend or an entire season.

I got delayed leaving Tucson and didn’t make it to Darby Wells Road until just past sunset, so I had to pick a spot fast before total darkness set in.  Luckily, there was a nice spot about a mile and a half from the highway that was relatively level, and still got pretty good Verizon reception.   The next morning I awoke to discover an old faded “No Trespassing” sign right behind my rig….oops!


But I decided to stay put and no one ever kicked me out.  The BLM land area here is fairly good sized but much less populated than other BLM areas around Quartzsite or Yuma.  You still can have the comfort of a distant neighbor in sight range, but don’t need to park so close that you hear them.  This was my only neighbor for the weekend:


It was about a 6-mile drive into town, and Ajo was a bit bigger and more interesting than I thought it would be.  There were all the basic conveniences for a boondocker—water, fuel, food, laundry, dump facilities at a couple of in-town RV parks, as well as a really pretty little town square surrounded by palm trees, a couple of scenic churches, and an arched plaza with an old railroad station.  Remnants of bygone mining opulence, but the town still seems to fight hard to keep it maintained. The rest of the town is not nearly as pretty—mainly a number of tiny homes on dusty dirt lots (many, with their fair share of old appliances and old vehicles cluttered about). But still, I really liked this town’s low-key, “accept you for what you are” vibe!


I really loved this mural covering the town newpaper’s building—it made a musical staff out of the utility lines running alongside.  So creative!


I discovered some very scenic dirt roads and 4WD trails in the area.  Took one of them 20 miles down into Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to visit the old Bates Well ranch.  Not too many visitors make it out there (as there’s no access to it from the main part of the park except to hike a few dozen miles)!


But I enjoyed the 4WD trails and desert at the BLM area the best.  Every bit as pretty as the National Monument in my opinion (and Millie seemed to approve as well)!

It was just amazing how quiet and still it was to camp there.  Absolutely zero sound except for an occasional bird chirping or bee buzzing.  The skies, of course, were most amazing at sunrise and sunset:

At night, even though the moon was nearly full, the skies were dark enough to still see tons of stars.  You can even see a few here!


I definitely can’t wait to return here again next year and spend more time (but please, lets just keep telling all the other RVers that there’s nothing in Ajo except drug smugglers and illegals!)



  1. We loved that area! We were there a few weeks ago and would have loved to explore more, but we were experiencing electrical problems with The MotherShip and had to move on towards home.
    The place is magical!

    1. Hope the MotherShip is repaired soon so you can get out exploring again!

  2. Great photos!! Not everyone likes the peace and quiet of the area, glad you found it and enjoyed it.

    1. Yes, it's certainly nice that all the activities and conveniences of Tucson or Phoenix are just a couple hours away. Nice to mix it up and not always camp the same way all the time!

  3. What a beautiful area! Thanks for the info and wonderful photos. Looks like a place I'd like to look up when I get down that way next month. Is everything in full bloom right now? coming in? or going out?

    1. Just a few blooms down around Organ Pipe right now, but I hear that AZ and SoCal get a lot more desert blooms in late Feb/early Mar, so your timing should be perfect if you come out then!

  4. I haven't been to Ajo in more years than I care to remember. I really need to take a ride out there again.
    Your pictures are awesome. How long will you be in Tucson?

    1. Hi Jojo, I'll probably be in Tucson another 1-2 weeks. Millie is having surgery on Monday so will be trying to stay "planted" until she recovers and is ready for traveling again.

    2. Looks like you found more out in Ajo than you expected. These are some really great travel photos. The shot with the weather vein could be in an ad! Thanks for the post


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