Explore Geology
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Organ Pipe Cactus

National Monument


cover of park brochure

park geology subheading
cactus flowers
Organ Pipe National Monument, Arizona

Organ Pipe National Monument is located in the Sonoran Desert in the south of Arizona on the border of Mexico. The Sonoran Desert is one of the hottest deserts in North America. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument lies in an area of wide alluvial basins separated by steep mountain ranges. The landscape of this national monument is unique in a number of ways. In this one area of Arizona, the junction of three types of environments can be found: desert, mountains, and plains. The convergence of these three habitats in such a small setting is difficult to find. The elevation range within the Organ Pipe National Monument is from 981 feet all the way to the top of Mt. Ajo that has a summit of 4,800 feet. Most of the mountains in the monument were formed by volcanic activity. Rare desert springs can also be found in the area. Quitobaquito springs are the most easily visited and the largest in the monument. These wetland areas contain a diversity of plants and also attract wildlife from the surrounding desert.

man standing next to tall organ pipe cactus


Organ Pipe National Monument is also home to some unique plant species, some of which are only found in the area. These include the organ pipe, saguaro, and senita cactus species, also the ocotillo and creosote bush among many other species which are protected in this area because of their rarity.

park maps subheading

The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.

View the park's map to create your own personal maps and images right here.

For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.

photo album subheading

A geology photo album for this park can be found here.

For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.

books, videos, cds subheading

Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.

Please visit the Geology Books and Media webpage for additional sources such as text books, theme books, CD ROMs, and technical reports.

Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
ISBN 0-393-92407-6
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout

The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!

Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.

geologic research subheading

Information about the park's research program is available on the park's research webpage.

For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.

The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.

A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.

selected links subheading

NPS Geology and Soils Partners

NRCS logoAssociation of American State Geologists
NRCS logoGeological Society of America
NRCS logoNatural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
USGS logo U.S. Geological Survey

teacher feature subheading

Thanks to Parks as Classrooms and The National Park Foundation, we are back on the map as a destination for education. We are creating new education units to be used by teachers and their classes both at ORPI and in their own classrooms. Please stay tuned for more exciting developments as they happen!

Information about the park's education and intrepretive programs is available on the park's education webpage.

For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.
updated on 01/04/2005  I   http://nature.nps.gov/geology/parks/orpi/index.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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