To visit a rare, isolated and genuine Arizona desert oasis that was once a life-saving resource for padres, explorers, Native Americans, miners, ranchers, explorers and boundary surveyors, you now must travel to Quitobaquito in a National Park service van guarded by Border Patrol officers with lethal weapons. Private vehicles are forbidden. Quitobaquito can only be legally accessed by arrangement with the staff at Organ Pipe National Monument HQ. Please contact them as far ahead in advance as possible to find out when these escorted tours will be given. There are numerous regulations for tour participants regarding behavior, preparation, supplies and general safety. However I highly recommend this opportunity to safely visit this desert gem. There is a large pond fed by a tiny spring. Since visiting has become more restricted over the years as illegal border crossing increased, wildlife has actually prospered. You'll find rare waterfowl, javelinas, reptiles by the score (watch out for rattlers!) and also the extremely rare and endangered Quitobaquito pupfish. This tour will take most of the day. Prepare for a jarring ride along the fortified border as you approach this site. Busy Mexican highway 2 and a couple ranches will be visible nearby. On my first visit here in 1966, there was not a soul around except me, and the wind... and the border fence was just a mere 3 strands of barbed wire, as compared to the massive steel walls they have now plus armed patrols and electronic surveillance. Check out this news article about one group's recent rewarding experience: http://azstarnet.com/news/local/border/armed-guards-ensuring-safety-of-organ-pipe-tours/article_ff023cb3-993e-51e2-932d-9fac0015a356.html Bottom line: Its really worth the trip if you wish to visit the rare and secluded Quitobaquito Spring.
A little oasis in the Sonoran Desert. CLOSE to Mexico Highway 2. We saw some coots and other waterfowl while we were there.
This is a four hour van tour that can take a bit longer - it takes an hour drive in and an hour drive out over very bumpy roads. You are provided information about the area you are traveling over during the drives in and out. The walking tour takes two hours. You need to be able to walk about a mile or so total over uneven ground and a walking stick can be useful; also bring water, a hat, & use sun lotion. At each stop during the walk you learn about the area you are walking over. Ranger Betty was extremely knowledgeable and provided us with an excellent tour including the history of the area. We saw the border fence and beyond, the Mexican highway with trucks flying by. We drove out with two vans - 10 visitors to a van and two rangers to each van following the border patrol vehicle. No one can stay in the van during the tour; we all needed to be with the rangers. There are no WCs out there - so a large cacti had to suffice if nature called. Would definitely recommend this tour.
The National Park service is slowly restoring security and amenities at this remote natural site. In recent months, the Service has pronounced the Border road as secure for travel in private cars. Border Guards may still accompany vehicles at a distance. After very good summer rains, the pond has swelled considerably and the pupfish are thriving but still endangered. Many pupfish colonies have been established at other locations in The Southwest to insure their gene pool survives in case of accident or severe drought at the spring. Be careful at the Pond due to slippery banks and other small challenges in that environment. The US-Mexican border is visible just 200 ft south of the parking area. Wilderness hikes are possible outward from Quitobaquito. Be sure to check in with, or phone the Organ Pipe Visitor Center before starting the trip. Its necessary before making this trip to stock up on all supplies and a full gas tank either in Ajo or Why. Be sure to take plenty of water in case of a breakdown in the desert or other unforeseen situations. Bottom line: A true adventure awaits for all at Quitobaquito whether you are city slicker, regular desert visitor or veteran desert rat. Discoveries await all at this remote site.
Quitobaquito Spring is a must visit if you are here for more than just a short stop. A freshwater spring and pond is an unexpected sight.
You can only do this with a ranger tour otherwise too long a trek. Check schedule to find out the times
We rode our 200cc dirt bike from the camp site at Organ Pipe to QuitoBaquito and had a very good time. The roads are all dirt and you better have good tires but it's worth it. There is a short walk down to the spring and then you can wander around the pond looking at birds, and contemplating about Father Kino and how he may have lived back in the olden days. The scenery is surreal, the views are majestic, and you can't help but think about your immortal soul, your own destiny, and your brief life on this gorgeous planet. Take plenty of water and snacks, this trip is not for the tender rider in any vehicle. However, just do it, follow the signs, go out on a limb and look around!
Worth a visit. It is off the main road, but is unlike the rest of the park. This spring and pond are just over the line in US, part of the reason for determining the border at the time of the Gadsen Purchase.
Within the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and about 100 yards north of the US/Mexico border is Quitobaquito Spring which keeps a small pond filled with water. In the water are the endangered Quitobaquito (Sonoyta) Pupfish that are only found in this one pond in the world- pretty amazing when you think about that. You may or may not see actual Pupfish depending on water clarity (muddy after rain) and the size of the year’s hatch.There are very limited, guarded tours through the National Park Service to Quitobaquito due to the illegal immigration and smuggling in the area, so call ahead to check availability. If you are lucky enough to be in the area when a tour is available (usually in the spring) and you can handle the 3 hour bumpy, rocky roundtrip drive, maybe it is worth it to say you were there. Also included is a walking tour of the area, so you need to be able to walk in unimproved areas since people are not allowed to wait in the van.There is some adventure part of the tour in going out there with armed guards and a rare ecosystem is nice to see. The desert views, other than the actual pond, are similar to what you'd see on the Ajo Mountain Drive or Puerto Blanco Drive without the need for a long, rough, escorted drive. Both Ajo Mountain & Puerto Blanco Drives are in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and ones you can do on your own time. Also, there are no restrooms out there so come prepared.