Ajo, Arizona

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
(520) 387-4501

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

  • The 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.




View Larger Map

Things To Do

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

Resources & Nearby Attractions


Related Books & Gifts - Trading Post

Nearby Attractions

  • 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

Recreation & Wilderness Areas



Related DesertUSA Pages


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- DesertUSA.com and Digital West Media, Inc. - -