Coming from the Spanish word for “garlic”, Ajo is a lovely little oasis in the middle of the desert in southern Arizona. A two-hour drive is all that separates the small community from larger cities like Tucson and Phoenix, and the United States’ border with Mexico is only a half an hour’s drive to the south. Ajo has been inhabited for centuries by Spanish colonists, settlers, and, of course, the native indigenous peoples of southern Arizona.
After the discovery of copper and other valuable resources in the area, Ajo underwent a period of growth and became a small hub for activity in its own right. After a series of raids by the natives, the mine was abandoned and restarted nearly 30 years later, which would forever shape the town from that point on.
Ajo has retained its essence as a small desert town with a lively past. This Old West community is home to retirees for the most part and it has also served as a tourism hotspot for those seeking to see the soothing desert landscapes of the Southwest. When you book an RV in Ajo, your access to major cities, national parks, and stunning natural beauty in the heart of the Sonoran Desert is unbeatable.
Experience the Sites and Scenery
Captivating desert landscapes are the name of the game when you rent an RV in Ajo and there are plenty of them in the surrounding areas. Picacho Peak State Park is roughly halfway between Phoenix and Tucson, and quite easy to get to with your Ajo RV rental. Named for the 3,000-foot summit in the middle of the park, Picacho Peak State Park is home to a massive geological feature that can be seen from Tucson. Hiking up this desert mountain is a surefire way to see some incredible views of the desert below, all while getting an intense workout. The park was also the battleground for a small Civil War skirmish, with a statue paying respect to the fallen.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a stunning natural refuge south of Ajo along the border of the U.S. and Mexico. This incredible site is the only place in the country where the organ pipe cactus grows in the wild. The area has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve for its variety of flora. Additionally, there are lots of interesting natural arches you can hike to and see.
Just outside of the city of Phoenix, the Sonoran Desert National Monument guards half of a million acres of land for the protection and preservation of the invaluable desert ecosystems it possesses. There are a variety of endangered animals that call the monument home and when you bring your Ajo motorhome rental for a road trip, you can enjoy unimaginably beautiful night skies. The land that the monument protects is also known to have various archaeological sites dating back thousands of years, and a wealth of artifacts. If you think you might want to spend some time in Tucson, you can spend a day or two at Saguaro National Park and enjoy some excellent scenery. There are over 160 miles of trails within the park where you can hike or mountain bike, and gorgeous mountains to climb. Sadly there are no campgrounds in the park that can accommodate your Ajo RV rental, although there is wilderness camping available in the nearby Rincon Mountain District.
Where to Park It
People who rent an RV in Ajo should be able to find plenty of camping accommodations because there are a variety of places to stay near town. Shadow Ridge RV Resort is in Ajo and has a large clubhouse with a game room, and also has several nature trails to reconnect you with nature. Hickiwan Trails RV Park also has a clubhouse and laundry facilities, and it is just a short walk from a convenience store and a casino.
There are several camping areas in the nearby Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, like Alamo Canyon Campground and Twin Peaks Campground, so you'll have plenty of options when you rent an RV in Ajo.
Ajo is hardly the type of place you would seek out if you are looking for a big city vacation with lots of landmarks and museums. There are a few attractions that are worth checking out around the area, though.
The New Cornelia Open Pit Mining Lookout is an interesting place to gain some insight into the history of the town's copper mining obsession, with beautiful views overlooking the massive pit. There is a knowledgeable curator that works there who shares stories and information about the mine with guests.
The Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Ajo is a delightful old building that was erected in 1927. The architectural style is reminiscent of the old Spanish missions that once dotted the west. The Ajo Historical Society Museum is the best place in town to learn about local history. It is housed in an old church and has a wide variety of artifacts ranging from mining implements to indigenous items.