8 Best Things To Do In Ajo, Arizona

things to do in ajo arizona
Devin
Devin 
Updated

Another Arizona small town with unique landmarks, Ajo is a diamond in the rough. On a gorgeous stretch of land there are a handful of national sites great for nature-lovers, and for those who like architecture, the town itself is sure to please you. If you’re looking for something truly different, try looking out over the open pit the town prides itself on. The things to do in Ajo, Arizona, might just surprise you.

1. Take in the panoramic views of the New Cornelia Open Pit Mining Lookout

Your copper came from this former mountain.

Posted by Andy Scherer on Thursday, 3 January 2019

This open pit is a truly unique attraction. Make it your first visit if you don’t know what to do in Ajo, AZ. One of Ajo’s premiere sites, one reviewer said of it on Trip Advisor, “From the overlook, you can see directly into the old mine pit-it’s huge!! Interesting. But do yourself a favor and visit for awhile with Bob and Dee, the volunteers who keep this gem open. Bob worked in the mine for over 40 years, until it closed, and his wife, Dee was by his side the whole time.” Nearly two miles of panoramic viewing, visitors come to observe and explore the mine museum.

New Cornelia Open Pit Mining Lookout

Address: Indian Village Rd., Ajo, Arizona, 85321, USA

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 11:00am - 3:00pm, Wednesday-Saturday; call ahead

Contact: 520-387–7742

2. Cruise a scenic loop along Puerto Blanco

North Puerto Blanco Scenic Drive -- End of the Road
Source: Photo by Flickr user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’re looking for the best activities in Ajo, try this out! This scenic loop is only about 10 miles long, and curves around the mountain-covered desert. Along the way you’re sure to see plenty of cacti, countless species of birds (binoculars are recommended), and volcanic rock formations. Puerto Blanco Drive itself stretches on for 37 miles, so you may also find other scenic drives, and areas to hike or bike.

Puerto Blanco Scenic Loop

Address: Scenic Loop Road

Downloadable Map: Puerto Blanco Scenic Loop map

3. Visit the Ajo Historical Museum

Sunrise photo taken as part of Best Small Town competition.

Posted by Ajo Historical Society Museum on Monday, 5 June 2017

Housed in what used to be St. Catherine’s Indian Mission church, this museum displays some of Ajo’s most historic art pieces, such as Native American pottery and jewelry, as well as other significant historical copper mining artifacts. A dentist’s office, a blacksmith shop, and even an early print shop are a few of the most popular exhibits.

Ajo Museum & Historical Society

Address: 160 Mission Rd, Ajo, AZ, 85321

Opening Hours: 12:00pm - 4:00pm daily. Closed on public holidays.

Access: “The street sign that is at the entrance of the dirt road states “Indian Village Rd and Sahuaro.“ If you are coming to the Museum from the North (Gila Bend, Phoenix, Yuma, etc.), then you would make a right turn off Highway 85 where it bends at Sahuaro St, and follow that all the way around to the museum. If you are coming to the Museum from the South (Why, Tucson, Sonoita, etc.), then you would make a left turn at the stop light (La Mina) and follow La Mina toward the mine, past the mine lookout, and eventually to the museum.” (Museum website)

Contact: 520-387-7105

Website: Ajo Museum & Historical Society

4. Do some golfing at the Ajo Country Club Golf Course

Posted by Ajo Golf course on Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Have you ever wanted to golf on a real desert golf course? Well, here’s your chance-but don’t worry, there’s plenty of green, too. It’s like a little oasis in the mountains, and you might even spot some coyotes, roadrunners, or deer! There are nine regulation holes, and I also hear the food at the course’s restaurant is quite excellent…

Ajo Country Club Golf Course

Address: 77 W Mead Rd, Ajo, AZ 85321

Price: Call for fees and rentals

Opening Hours: Open to the public year-round

Contact: 520-387-5011

Website: Ajo Country Club Golf Course

5. Explore the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

View in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona
Source: Photo by user Hollingsworth, Jo... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The mission of this refuge is to help preserve and protect wildlife, fish, plants, and habitats. The name Cabeza Prieta means “dark head” or “dirty head” in Spanish, and “refers to a lava-topped, granite peak in a remote mountain range in the western corner of the refuge” (Refuge website). They have many activities available for visitors, including educational programs about the Sonoran Desert, wildlife observation and photography, biking, and primitive camping at designated campgrounds; other activities, such as hunting, horseback riding and pack stock require a special use permit.

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

Address: 1611 North Second Street, Ajo, AZ 85321

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 9am - 6pm. Closed on public holidays.

Contact: (520) 387-6483

Website: Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

6. Relax at the Quitobaquito Springs

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Though no one is quite sure of the meaning of its name, this spring is a significant part of the U.S.’s National Park Service. The habitat is tough to maintain, but artifacts around 1600 years old have been found here. Not to mention, some endangered species have found a home here, including the spring snail, the Sonoyta mud turtle, and the desert caper plant. According to the National Park Service, “this is the only spot in the United States that these species can be found naturally occurring. The desert caper supports the caper butterfly (ascia Howarthi) that is only found coexisting with the plant.”

Quitobaquito Springs

Address: 10 Organ Pipe Drive, Ajo, AZ 85321 (Located in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument)

Price: Entrance fee of 4 USD for individuals or 12 USD per vehicle

Opening Hours: 8:00am - 5:00pm daily

Contact: 520-387-6849, 520-387-6849-7302

Website: Quitobaquito Springs

7. Visit the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ pipe 12
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Whether you want to drive through it, hike it, or bike it, this national park is something you have to see. Because the Sonoran Desert is actually very green, this national park has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve. They offer special ranger programs, horseback rides, and camping as activities, and obviously, you’ll see some cacti, as well as some rare plants. You may also see some mountain lions and coyotes, bighorns, bats, deer, jackrabbits, birds, and more! I highly recommend visiting this park’s website before visiting to learn more about it.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Address: 10 Organ Pipe Drive, Ajo, AZ 85321

Price: Entrance fee of 4 USD for individuals or 12 USD per vehicle

Opening Hours: 8:00am - 5:00pm daily

Contact: 520-387-6849, 520-387-7302

Website: Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

8. Enjoy the town's architecture

Posted by Ajo Plaza on Thursday, 20 October 2016

It may be a small town, but Ajo has some incredible Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture. Popular buildings and sites to see include the Plaza and old Train Depot, the Curley School, the Federated Church, the Greenway Mansion built by John Greenway for his wife Isabella, and the Cross on the mountain, which Isabella had made for her husband’s funeral. The plaza contains the visitor’s center, some shops, the Oasis Cafe, and an art gallery.

Ajo Plaza

Address: 15 Plaza, Ajo, AZ 85321

Opening Hours: 9:00am - 5:00pm daily

Contact: (520) 387-3229

Website: Ajo Plaza

Enjoy Ajo

Whether you drive or walk around, there are a number of unique things to see and do in Ajo, including a little golfing, and a small town museum. If you ever drop in, be sure to take in its fantastic views—and take lots of pictures!

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Hello, fellow travel enthusiasts! I am a writer who also happens to love travel and history. Travel has allowed me to be open to new experiences and possibilities, past, present, and future; I...Read more

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