Gateway to Mexico and the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
Camping & RV Parks
There are many camping and RV accommodations in and around Ajo. For more information, contact:
Chamber of Commerce Ajo
601 W Indian Village Rd
Ajo, AZ 85321
Location /Description / History
Ajo pronounced Ah-ho is located in western Pima County in the western part of Arizona. It is south of Interstate 8 and just off State Highway 85. It is approximately 110 miles from Phoenix and 131 miles from Tucson. It is a gateway into Mexico and to the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It is famous for its Spanish colonial architecture, historic railway station, relaxed charm, breathtaking vistas, and vibrant sunsets.
Ajo is an ethnically diverse community and the birthplace of copper mining in Arizona. The principal source of the town’s economy is tourism, though Phelps Dodge hopes to re-establish the copper mining industry which ceased operation in 1986. It is a popular tourist destination and retirement community offering a somewhat inexpensive lifestyle. It has also become the home of border patrollers of late. Ajo is a gateway for visitors traveling to Mexico, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, and the Tohono O’odham Indian Reservation (and its casino.)
In Spanish, ajo means “garlic.” Wild garlic plants (the Ajo lily or desert lily an onion-like plant) that grew in the surrounding hills were responsible for the naming of the community. Some also suspect the name comes from Papago Indian word for “paint.” The Papago Indians obtained red paint pigments from this area.
Population / Elevation
Population: About 4000 (2007)
Elevation: 1798 feet above sea level
Size: 28.1 square miles
Historic & Points of Interest
heart of Ajo is The Ajo Plaza, a Spanish Colonial Revival town
square built in 1917. The lovely plaza is lined by tall palms and flanked by
mission churches and Spanish-style buildings. Festivals are held in the plaza.
It was built at the direction of mining pioneer John Greenway. His wife Isabella
later became the first woman elected to Congress by Arizona. The Catholic church
was designed by George Washington Smith, a Santa Barbara, California architect
whom Isabella had met. The church was built in 1924-25. The Protestant church
was built in 1927 and influenced by the same architect. He died however before
it was built and does not get full credit for it. Mrs. Isabella Greenway
donated some funds in her deceased husband's honor (John Greenway died Jan. 1926)
towards its completion and her name is on the plaque in front of the church.
- Curley School 1919 beautiful Spanish architecture
- Ajo Historical Society Museum mementos from Ajo’s past
- The Train Depot 1915 aka Ajo Depot served the Tucson, Cornelia, Gila Bend railway.
Golf -Tennis -Bowling -Swimming -Organized community events.
January - Annual Piñata Contest
February - Sonoran Shindig
February - Annual Fiddler’s Contest
March - Annual O’odham Day Celebration
November - Copper Days and Great Western Street Fair
November - Desert Dust and Classic Rust Car Show
November - Paws, Claws, and Snakes Pet Parade
December - La Posada - Piñata, candle light procession
Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post
- Sonoran Desert National Monument
- Crater Range
- Sonayta, Mexico bustling sout-of-the-border town famous for crafts and shopping
- Puerto Penasco, aka Rocky Point a resort town located two hours south on the Sea of Cortez in Sonora, Mexico. Puerto Penasco was at one time a fishing village and has shops for tourists and delicious fresh shrimp that tourists bring back across the border.
- Goldwater Gunnery Range
Cites and Towns
Parks & Monuments
- Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Visitor Center
- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument famous for the rare Organ Pipe Cactus.
- Saguaro National Park133 miles east.
- Casa Grande National Monument: 120 miles northeast.
- Tumacacori National Historic Park: 36 miles south of Tucson.
- Tubac Presidio Stater Historic Park: 34 miles south of Tucson.
- Picacho Peak State Park: 120 miles northeast.
- Catalina State Park: 20 miles north of Tucson.
Recreation & Wilderness Areas
SEARCH THIS SITE
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
The movie Stagecoach, in 1939 introduced two stars to the American public, John Wayne, and Monument Valley. Visiting Monument Valley gives you a spiritual and uplifting experience that few places on earth can duplicate. Take a look at this spectacular scenery in this DesertUSA video.
Glen Canyon Dam - Lake Powell Held behind the Bureau of Reclamation's Glen Canyon Dam, waters of the Colorado River and tributaries are backed up almost 186 miles, forming Lake Powell. The dam was completed in 1963. Take a look at this tremendous feat of engineering - the Glen Canyon Dam.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Canyon de Chelly NM offers the opportunity to learn about Southwestern Indian history from the earliest Anasazi to the Navajo Indians who live and farm here today. Its primary attractions are ruins of Indian villages built between 350 and 1300 AD at the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon wall caves.
Laughlin - Lake Mohave - Colorado River
In the summer, Katherine's Landing at the southern end of Lake Mohave is a hub of activity. It has fuel, a general store, a restaurant and a snack bar. The Colorado River south of the dam offers many recreational opportunities. Take a look at this river destination!
Click here to see current desert temperatures!