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Ajo Arizona – Our Summer Experience in Ajo at the Sonoran Desert Inn

Disclosure: I was a guest at the Sonoran Desert Inn for a night. As always and forever, all opinions are my own.

I've been on this planet long enough and seen a good chunk of its geography to have witnessed my fair share of towns that through a twist of fate, a curve in the road, a closing of a business is set on a path of bad luck and circumstance. Historically, take a look at some of the towns that thrived on Route 66, or for those familiar with France, National 6. These once-vibrant areas now suffer and are oftentimes abandoned. It takes a very dedicated person or people to stick around and people with hearts of gold to have faith in the future. In Ajo Arizona, those people gather around the Sonoran Desert Inn.

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Before I dive into more detail, if you've been reading Misadventures with Andi for a while you will know that I am a movie buff (and if you haven't been reading for a long time, just take my word for it) and there is a film that I think about when I think about Ajo. It is a French movie with an actor I enjoy (Lorànt Deutsch) called “Un village presque parfait” which means, an almost perfect village. It is the story of a small village in France that is seeing hard times because its main employer, a smoked salmon factory, shut down and moved out of the country. For them to attract a new company, the village must have a doctor. So the mayor of the village, along with a few other rascally characters trick a Parisian doctor into falling in love with their town…and the story goes on.

Rooms at the Sonoran Desert Inn in Ajo Arizona

I don't think the co-directors of the Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center, Stuart, and Emily Siegel, are tricking anyone, but they are trying to work a miracle and I, for one am rooting for them and the entire Ajo community who have dedicated their blood, sweat, and tears to this endeavor.

Ajo Arizona was once a bustling little town on the Southern Arizona and Mexico border. For multiple generations, there had been a copper mine and the town was built to support the miners. It was a model-planned community with pretty pre-fab houses and a Spanish colonial town square. The town planners sought to keep the miners and their families happy and satisfied.  But in 1985, union disputes broke out, copper prices plummeted and the mine closed overnight leaving 1000s of people without work. Families moved away and the town was practically abandoned.

So why isn't Ajo Arizona one of those ghost towns that people drive through on the way to somewhere else?  Two words.

People and Arts.

A community of people wanting to fight to change the future of Ajo through art.

Art work at the Sonoran Desert Inn in Ajo Arizona

Truth be told, they have only started. They do have a ways to go. But the heart is there and stories like this help raise visibility to why you should visit Ajo. Why you should Stay in the Sonoran Desert Inn and why you should spend some of your hard-earned money there. If you are interested in learning more about Ajo Arizona, here is a great article from The Atlantic about its history. The Sonoran Desert Inn also has a great page on their site that weaves their story with the town of Ajo's and it is very well written, I recommend checking it out.

Mr. Misadventures and I enjoy visiting places in the off-season. Full transparency, summer is NOT the best time to visit Ajo Arizona. BUT I find rainbows in the clouds wherever I go and I believe everything happens for a reason. We had some rainbows on our trip.

Why visit Ajo?

To be clear, I am not going to say that Ajo is a destination spot. But I do think it is a great stopover, a nice weekend or a cool spot for a small conference. Ajo is 2 hours from Phoenix. Take Highway 85, avoid Interstate 10 and see the lovely Sonoran desert landscape. Ajo is just a notch over 2 hours from Tucson. Take Highway 86, avoid Interstate 10 and see the Tohono O'odham Nation and one of my favorite spots right in the middle between Ajo and Tucson, Kitt Peak National Observatory. The space geek in you will love it.

View of several observatories on Kitt Peak National Observatory
View of several observatories on Kitt Peak National Observatory.

Most people pass through Ajo to visit the Organ Pipe National Monument. We did ourselves when we spent a long weekend in Tucson last year. Organ pipe cacti are unique and are only found in the Sonoran Desert. They look like pipe organs and the park has tons of them!

Organ Pipe National Monument
Organ Pipe cacti in Organ Pipe National Monument.

There is also the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge (the visitor center is located in Ajo) with 275 different species of wildlife. You are also 2 hours south of Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point on the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. It is a fishing and resort town and quite popular for its beaches.

So that's some of the why you might find yourself close to Ajo. The Sonoran Desert Inn has also partnered with REI Adventures for hikes in the Sonoran desert, check out the inn's events page for more information. The inn is host to lots of community events including culinary, spiritual, and plain old business conferences. The property is an old school known as the Curley School Campus and I love the sense of nostalgia I got while walking down the hall, not to the principal's office or to the school nurse, but to our room. They call the decor “Southwestern industrial” and I dig it.  I would also call it very clean!

Inside room at the Sonoran Desert Inn in Ajo Arizona
Inside our kitchenette room.

Our room had a nice bathroom and a kitchen to prepare food and beverages. It did not have a television (that scores points in my book!) but did have wireless. Notice the cute javelina pillow? That's kind of the town's mascot and we will come back to that in a minute. The rooms are converted schoolrooms and I love the vibe! Also, notice the industrial art hanging from the ceiling built with old mining equipment. And P.S. I have those striped pillows on my guest couch at home – true story!

The center hosts a community garden, local artists, and a meditation center among many other things I did not have time to discover.

Part of the community garden at Sonoran Desert Inn in Ajo Arizona
Part of the community garden.

So remember those rainbows I mentioned? When we arrived at the Sonoran Desert Inn we were a bit tired. It was hot, we had spent 3 hours outside touring Kitt Peak and we were hungry. There is not a lot (read practically zero) options for food in the summer. But there are tamales! Yes. You read that right. Tamales. One of the employees of the inn makes fabulous tamales and she sells them in the office. So when you check-in, ask about them and buy a dozen! We got 1/2 a dozen and wished we bought more. They even provide you all the instructions you need for heating them in your room. Rainbows and little bundles of heaven I tell ya!

The next morning we rose as early (as we always do!) and went to check out Ajo's Artist Alley. The Sonoran Desert Inn and the town of Ajo itself are very committed to supporting local, regional, heck, any artist. There is an artist in residence program and there is Artist Alley.

Andi in Artist Alley in Ajo Arizona

Everywhere we turned there were amazing pieces on the walls covering all types of topics: Native American culture, spirituality, education, Sonoran life, culture. Beautiful work.

Artist Alley in Ajo ArizonaArtist Alley in Ajo ArizonaArtist Alley in Ajo Arizona

We were all alone so we didn't have to fight people for photos: off-season and early risers for the win!

Artist Alley in Ajo ArizonaArtist Alley in Ajo ArizonaArtist Alley in Ajo Arizona

Plenty of talented artist in Ajo!

Artist Alley in Ajo Arizona

After taking in all the different murals, we decided we were hungry, but the restaurants offering breakfast were not open until 7:00 and it was 6:15 so we decided to drive through some of the residential areas to look at the homes that were built to house miner families. There is a movement to restore some of these older homes, but they still need a lot of work. There aren't a ton of people that live in Ajo year-round, most of them are border patrol and their families as there is a large border patrol facility between Ajo and Pipe Organ park. There are also a lot of retirees as well (and a ton of RVing snow birders in the winter). Quite frankly it is like a ghost town. I know because where we live in the northwest of Phoenix is practically the same!

We had the streets to ourselves. That is until a gang of javelinas showed up. That is not the official scientific name for a group or family of javelinas, but you don't want to mess around with these animals so I like the gang reference. Except I just looked it up and it is a squadron and that is totally cool! They have a squadron of javelina's at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (one of my favorite things to do in Tucson) but I have only seen the shape of them under the bridge or in the bushes. This badass squadron was in the wild. Well sort of. If you call a neighborhood of homes in a small town the wild! You get my point. Hopefully.

I was driving and rolling super slow so that we could keep up with them and so that Mr. Misadventures could get a photo.

Javelinas in Ajo Arizona

There must have been about 30 of them wandering around and it was hard to get them!

Javelinas in Ajo Arizona

Then a coyote rolled onto the scene. A small guy. The squadron decided to cross the road and the coyote stopped, sat, and waited until they all crossed. Also smart enough to know that you don't mess with these guys!

Coyotes waits for javelinas in Ajo Arizona

By the time we finished chasing them around the neighborhood, it was 7:00 am. Time for breakfast. The restaurant we were going to (there was only one choice on a Sunday morning in the summer) was right around the corner from where we were so I pulled into the parking lot and noticed that there was nobody home. Sunday morning, people might get to work a little late, so we waited until 7:15. I double-checked their Google business listing, it said they were open. I checked the photo I had taken with my phone from the information book in our room that said it was open, but nada.

[Update: the kind of owners of the above-mentioned restaurant actually reached out after and offered us a gift card as a means to apologize for not being open. Can you believe how awesome this town is? Of course, I turned it down because only a restaurant is hard, owning a restaurant in a town as small as Ajo, harder. But I will gladly return in the autumn try have a [paid] meal.]

Enter rainbow number 2.

After a quick check on the interwebs, we found that the closest spot for breakfast was in the next town over. I personally wouldn't call it a town. It is heading the direction of the Organ Pipe National Monument and it is a corner with a 2-way stop sign, a gas station, a Mexican insurance office (you need to buy car insurance for driving in Mexico if you head to someplace like Puerto Peñasco) and one single restaurant called Grannymac's Kitchen. I don't know who Grannymac is but I love her. This restaurant run by 3 generations of fierce women is dah-li-cious!!! We had a great breakfast with probably the best just-made-right-from-the-top-of-the-oven tortillas.

There is no reason why I would ever stop in Why. If it hadn't been for our off-season stay where most of the restaurants were closed we would not have experienced those tantalizing tamales or tortillas. There is always sunshine on a rainy day.

And wild burros when you leave town.

Burro Couple on the road to Pipe Organ National Monument Arizona

And now, on my next visit to the Sonoran Desert Inn in the autumn, I know I will be seeing Ajo at its best. But you know what? I already think it is pretty darn good.

How about you? Have you been to Ajo? Have you heard of it? Do you want to come to visit the Sonoran Desert Inn? Do tell! Have you been to a town that has been struck by an economic downfall that's trying to turn itself around? Do share!

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Ajo web story!

Like it? PIN it!

Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center Ajo ArizonaSonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center Ajo ArizonaSonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center Ajo Arizona

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  1. Came to Ajo for a Sonoran desert conference and fell in love. Almost year and a half later bought a house. now here as often as possible. love the desert. Want to experience all seasons. 6 hour drive but an easy drive. We encourage our friends and family to visit and we provide the comforts of home. This morning a large quail family wandered through yard. Sometimes the javelinas walk down road or a bobcat saunters. Lots of birds and last night with a beautiful Sonoran desert sunset, we watched the bats chase insects.

    1. @Rose, I loved hearing about your experience and it is so nice to see that you have chosen Ajo.

      1. I really enjoyed reading about this experience. It’s somewhere I’ve never been but felt captivated in learning more about it.

  2. Amber Myers says:

    OH my gosh, what a gorgeous place. I need to get here one day. I would love to relax here. I hadn’t heard of Ajo before today.

  3. Shayla Marie says:

    Arizona sounds like such a neat state. I would love to take a trip there and take pictures. As an artist I wish I could go see the Artists Alley! So amazing!

  4. Andi, you always do such a wonderful job of telling a story to us. I love reading your posts. This sounds like a wonderful place to do just as you suggested, a night or two. I bet you can fully relax and recharge. Thank you for sharing!

    1. @Michelle, thank you for the kind words, I am so glad you enjoy my work!

  5. Megan Mann says:

    Okay, so THIS PLACE is beautiful. I’m always wondering if I should take a vacation to Arizona and this is one of those posts that push that a little higher up!

  6. Sounds like such a great spot to unplug and relax!

  7. Katherine says:

    I can see why you enjoyed Ajo so much! I haven’t visited, but I’d love to. And I know when I visited other parts of Arizona I was astounded by the vibrant artworks that seem to be everywhere. I guess getting that much sun every year just makes everything a little bit brighter. The Sonoran Desert Inn looks like a beautiful place to stay as well!

    1. @Kathering, the landscape in the Sonoran desert is breath-taking, you will love it!

  8. This place is so unique! I love the art, the buildings, the wildlife – all of it! I have to add it to my bucket list 🙂

  9. I have not spent much time in deserts, so I actually quite like the idea of visiting Ajo and the Sonoran desert. I love all the art, and hiking in the desert sounds fantastic (I mean, it sounds fantastic in the fall or winter! I am not sure I could cope with the summer temperatures!!)

    I looove how much wildlife you saw too! It looks like you had a blast!

  10. Vanessa Shields says:

    Ajo seems like a delightful place to visit. Sometimes staying in off the beat towns offers up so much to see and enjoy. I have never heard of javelinas but glad to know to keep my distance!

  11. Love finding out about unique towns in Arizona! I haven’t ventured south much and would definitely like to make it down there to check this place out and Tuscon.

  12. Clair Cook says:

    What a fun area to stay! I would love to visit Arizona!

  13. What a great destination! We love Arizona! We have family there so we visit often. I’ll keep this place in mind for our next trip. Artist Alley looks so fun!

    1. @Leah, yes, if you do come to AZ often you should definitely check it out!

  14. Jenn and Ed Coleman says:

    Of course I know Ajo. It’s on the far end of Ajo Way. I used to live of Ajo Way on the west side of the Tucson Mountains. True story. I found Jesus one Christmas on my way through Ajo. He was working at a gas station that I filled up at on the way to Rocky Point. I tell you what, there’s some so Arizona about a gang of javelina and a coyote walking across an empty stretch of highway. I can almost smell them now.

    1. @Ed, you are too funny! I have heard you smell javelinas before you see them but I didn’t notice a smell when we saw them!

  15. I can’t believe you all don’t have javelina up in Phoenix – they are everywhere around Tucson. Just last night a whole squadron (thanks for that word!) was blocking our way home and my dog and I had to circle around a bit until they cleared out.
    I also didn’t know there were wild burros around Ajo and Why….I’ll have to look for them next time!

    1. @Leigh, I saw your post on Facebook! There are supposedly areas with them in the Phoenix area, but we haven’t seen any – just coyotes, bobcats and rabbits, but it was fun to see so many. I would imagine that like Oatman the burros might be leftover from the mining days.

  16. Wow this place looks beautiful and peacefully relaxing. Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ Let me know if you are interested in doing collabs! xx

  17. Ha, I love your honesty on how you say things as it is. Ajo Arizona does look like an excellent stopover especially with coyotes and wild burros roaming around. The Kitt Peak National Observatory looks fascinating. Although am not a geek, I’m certain I’ll enjoy learning about the observatory. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  18. I’ve heard about Javelinas but I’ve never seen them in person – I understand they’re related to guinea pigs? I wouldn’t call them cute but they sure are photogenic 🙂 Beautiful murals too.

    1. @Lesley, they definitely aren’t cute HOWEVER, my hubby took a photo of a young couple a few weeks ago and the eyes on the female were so pretty!

  19. Loved yr writing! Beautifully crafted, a very different topic and loved how you detailed everything.
    Btw, what animal is Javelina actually? Never heard of it before.

    1. @Nabiha, thank you for the kind words! Javelinas are in the peccary family and are mainly found in Central and South America – they look like a wild pig or a boar but aren’t!

  20. Julia Dent says:

    This sounds like such a unique place to stay! I would love to see those murals and all that wildlife in person!

  21. I go to Arizona almost every year – will def add this to my list of places to explore! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Also, I have yet to see a javelina in real life. Love the photos you’ve captured of them.

  22. Tamara - Travelling Tam says:

    I love the desert. It has this arid beauty and that mixed with a slight industrial vibe would be very interesting! I always like staying somewhere that has been converted too. Gives the place much more character – that hotel looks pretty cool!

    1. @Tamara, we love the desert too, something we only discovered by visiting here while RVing, but the landscape is amazing!

  23. Two Find a Way says:

    We had never heard of Ajo before, but are so inspired by the strength of its community that for that reason alone we want to visit. Plus, all the beautiful nature, of course! We have actually never been to the desert, and would really appreciate a relaxing experience such as this one, while supporting a community that truly deserves it. We truly appreciate your honesty throughout the article!

    1. @Maria, you will be amazed by the staff and community at Sonoran Desert Inn. It is a special town and a special community!

  24. I’d never heard of the place, but love the murals, and the javelinas are cute! Seems like I need to add it to my US roadtrip list.

  25. I’ve never heard of Ajo, but now I’m so intrigued! I have a soft spot for Arizona and the Sonoran Desert because I worked there for a few months in the conservation corps (luckily I wasn’t there during the summer!)

    And javelinas!! I saw them once and they are so cute – glad you got to see them, too. That pillow is adorable haha. Next time I head to Southern AZ I’ll be checking Ajo out 🙂

    1. @Kelsey, wow that must have been tough work volunteering in the desert!

  26. Seriously can’t wait to explore this part of the world and looks like Ajo is defo worth hitting up. Still a little bit worried if I hit any wildlife if I drive in the area. However I am not a big fan of deserts but in some ways, the desert looks charming (if that’s the right word to use) around this area.

  27. Hanna Thomas says:

    This looks incredible, what a unique place. The street art is amazing, I’m adding this to the bucket list thanks so much for sharing. And not to mention all the wildlife, I’m such an animal lover, this sounds like the perfect place for me!

  28. This seems like such a cool place to stay! Will definitely add it to my Arizona bucket list!

  29. Cacinda Maloney says:

    OMG girl! You won’t believe this but on one of our many trips to Rocky Point, Mexico, we always pass through Ajo. On one trip I got out and took a photo of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. It looked so stunningly white against that deep blue sky. So, long story short, I sent the photo to a famous painter from Chile, Ortiz Villa de Moro, and he painted that photo at night with a deep blue background. It now hangs in my great room above my fireplace! Photo here: https://www.pointsandtravel.com/arizonas-beach-rocky-point-mexico-part-2/ You can remove the link if that is not allowed, but wanted to show it to you!

    1. @Cacinda, wow life can be so strange some times, how crazy is your story! I will definitely check out the photo the next time I am at your house too!

  30. What a beautiful place! I love the artwork you shared and the way the community came together to save this town from vanishing. It looks so typically like what I expect in Arizona, yet so unique. I would definitely seek out a place like this on my way to see the cacti. I get obsessed with those prickly things. 🙂

  31. You captured Ajo so beautifully, all your photos make it seem as though, we the readers, are there! Those jovalinas are cute but also interesting! I probably would have chased them too ha. Thank you for taking us through this gorgeous place through your eyes. I truly enjoyed reading about it.

  32. This is making me want to go to Arizona! What a beautiful location and interaction with nature. I would love to visit here one day.

  33. Just beautiful! This would totally be the place for me: I always wanted to visit this part of the US just for the desert. Now I’d like to see these super-cool murals, too….and the piggies 🙂 The only problem is that I’m not driving and I think by public transport, this is simply not doable. I need a chauffeur then….

  34. I have never heard of this town, but I have been interested in rolling along more of Route 66 and seeing whats out there. I would have to agree that Arizona in the summer time isn’t the place to be. This is an interesting looking place and I would love to learn more of the Native American culture. The hotel looks so low key from the outside, but the room looked nice.

  35. Wow – the Sonoran desert seems REALLY cool. I feel like there’s been a growing desire in me to visit the desert in Arizona and you’ve DEFINITELY just confirmed that. That art is amazing – we will go FAR out of our way for interesting art! The inns rooms are beautiful, too.

  36. Pubali (Paradise Catchers) says:

    Andi, I love how you started weaving the story drawing reference from the French movie. That movie is on my list now! (Movie buff here as well 🙂 ) … There’s always some secret benefit of visiting a place during the off-season. Loved the art work as well.

    1. @Pubali, that’s why I keep showing up at places offseason, there may be some downside, but the positives outweigh it!

  37. Sounds like a great place to stop for a night or two! I’ll pin this in m RV board for future planning 🙂 Thanks!

  38. sherianne says:

    I hadn’t heard of Ajo. I love the Sonoran desert and I have wanted to do the Kitt Observatory dinner and stars experience for a long time. The Sonoran Desert Inn sounds like a great place to spend the night, the rooms look great and the tamales are a cherry on top. I need to google javelina, I’m shocked a coyote would be cautious around any animal, they are so mean!

    1. @Sherianne, the javelinas look like small wild boars. I don’t think the coyote would be scared of one, but with a whole squadron like that, it seemed to be a little more cautious! My hubby is going to do the weekend star photography session at Kitt and he is like a little kid waiting!

  39. I am obsessed with that street art! It is always amazing to me how much talent people have to create an entire mural, and these are nothing short of incredible! xo – kam

  40. Never been to Ajo…or anywhere near it actually. But I did thoroughly enjoy reading about it. And I, like you, tend to get emotionally attached to small towns trying to make a go of it. I also do crazy things like showing up in the desert in the middle of the summer to avoid the crowds. I’ll remember Ajo, and maybe I’ll have the opportunity to stop by someday. My son has been trying to get me to visit Rocky Point.

    1. @Tami, so many places are over-crowded with tourists while others struggle for attention, I am happy to try to wave my arms a little to get people to see some of these places really making an effort yo change their town’s destiny!

  41. I love the way art is being injected into the preservation of Ajo. The Sonoran Desert Inn sounds like a lot of fun with all of the events to learn more about the local culture. And I love that they include a meditation center and community garden!

    1. @Kate, yes it is a very special place, just needs more people to know about it!

  42. Eric Gamble says:

    Okay first let me start off by saying that I love reading about your adventures with Mr. MisAdventures but the Bucket Listers of Darcee & Eric may not be able to survive a trip with you. I actually spit out my water when I realized that you had see all those amazing Murals in Ajo BEFORE 6:15AM! You kids are craaaaazzzzyyy!!! I don’t normally like to awake until the sun kisses my face and then I mosey about probably because I don’t got to bed, especially while travelling until 1 or 2AM!
    But Back to Ajo Arizona & the Sonoran Desert Inn. First of all The Sonoran Desert Inn looks amazing and you totally had me at this Tamale Speakeasy hiding behind the front desk! I love me some fresh made tamales. Also, I need to figure out if you stole the pillows or not because if you did, I may have to blackmail you for a dozen Tamales from the Sonoran Desert Inn Tamale Speakeasy!

    1. @Eric, ha-ha, yes we are morning people and I will be long in bed while you are still up at 1am! That tamale thing is on point and the first time I have seen a hotel with a secret stash! In the fall and winter, they have tamale-making classes and do little tamale festivals so there are plenty of expert tamale makers in that community!

  43. Marlene Marques says:

    This place looks really nice and the art pieces are breathtaking. All the environment around the Sonoran Desert Inn must make this place really special. Wouldn’t mind to try out that meditation center 😉

  44. SO so cool to see javelinas, a coyote and wild burros! I love seeing wildlife and getting photos of them. I also love that Ajo has been preserved by the people through art. I also love visiting places in the offseason because it’s (usually) cooler and I can get better photos without people in them!

    1. @Heather, Ajo in the summer if your spot for photos without people 😉

  45. What a cute spot! I haven’t been to Arizona is foreverrrr, but I miss it. Brave to tackle this part of the US in the summer, but smart to get up so early to do so! I love all this artwork, and what a charming place to stay. I’d probably eat a dozen of those tamales too. Great post!

    1. @Eileen, thanks, it is a pretty special place and well worth exploring!

  46. My sister-in-law, who lives in Ajo pretty much full time posted your article. I love visiting Ajo and feel lucky she and my brother fell in love with it. Your article is spot on and here are a few additional thoughts. I have never had the opportunity to see any javelinas as you did, but I did learn every home has a fence to keep them out. Visiting the Ajo Historical ‘museum’ gives a great history of the community, it’s located close to the enormous old mine pit. I think Ajo has one stop light, there a few gas stations, and well stocked dollar stores for almost anything you need and a cute little thrift shop (colluded in the off season June-Aug) on the corner of the town square near the library and post office where the murals and restaurant are. One of the reasons Ajo does thrive is Olsons IGA, a grocery that is also a hardware store. They have everything you might need, a surprising strong presence of health food options mixed in with standard grocery fare, along with a liquor store and a sit down/takeout spot. Like the movie you mentioned, Ajo needs a doctor. They have a top notch Chiropractor, massage, yoga, and a small health center. But for this very special place, with generations of families still the base community that is definitely attracting retires, a more substantial doctoring facility is something the town needs and is hoping to attract. If anyone out there is looking for a magical place to settle where jackrabbits and humming birds, quail and rainbows enchant amazing cacti populated landscapes come check it out. In Ajo you will love the cool mornings and evenings, even in summer, that welcome some of the most exquisite sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen….not to mention glorious the night skies.

    1. @Adina, THANK YOU for adding so much about Ajo! I can’t wait to go back this fall for my second trip and check some of this out!

  47. Ashley Hubbard says:

    OMG just all the wild animals is enough for me to sign up right now!! I also love that the artists are keeping the town and community alive – so important considering how many towns have just died out like you said. Can’t wait to explore more of Arizona – crossing my fingers for these kind of wildlife sightings!

  48. Rob @TravelLatte.net says:

    I have to admit, when I saw this on your blog, my first thought is “Someone is writing about Ajo?” My second was, “Someone’s HEARD of Ajo???” Growing up in Tucson, we were there often, whether for hiking in Organ Pipe, or en route to Puerto Penasco…or because we were playing against the Ajo Red Raiders! Recently, a friend who still lives in the region mentioned that Ajo is the new Bisbee – similar fate, similar response. I can see from your post that indeed it is, and it’s really good to see. Times were hard in the 80s and 90s. Nice to see Ajo finding itself anew. Thanks for sharing, Andi!

  49. MikesRoadTrip.com says:

    Great read Andi! I was driving through Ajo with no intention at stopping, that was, until I saw the Sonoran Desert Inn. While I didn’t stay there, I can attest it is a very cool place and I would like to make my way back to this area and give it more of a look. I was so impressed with the Inn that I mentioned them in my Southern Arizona road trip guide: https://www.mikesroadtrip.com/southern-arizona-road-trip-guide/

    1. @Mike, it is a wonderful spot ant such a wonderful member of the Ajo community!

  50. Sister Diane Schoff says:

    I lived in Ajo for two years, in the midst of the mine on strike and then closing. I worked in the church of the Immaculate Conception. We lived right across the street from the church and the plaza. It was an exceedingly hard time for the people! I love that it has a new and vibrant life! I loved living in Ajo and in the Sonoran desert. There is such amazing beauty, especially in the spring when everything starts to bloom! I hope someday to be able to visit the new Ajo,

    1. Thank you sister for sharing your experience in Ajo! Ajo is like a flower in early bloom.

  51. Mike Hutchison says:

    I lived and taught in Ajo from 1974 to 1979. I was chair of the high school social studies dept and head coach of the jv football team. At the time, the town had 7,000 people, with a full selection of businesses and services.

    The Three Nations blended their cultures so seamlessly that it was easy to forget the tensions in the rest of America. Residents were 75% Chicano, 15% Tohono Oodom, and 10% Anglo…and if anyohe cared it didnt show.

    Sadly, a town in that place is like a town on the moon or under the ocean…it canNOT be self-sufficient. It can only exist if there’s an external reason. With the mine gone, only outside employers and tourists can support it.

    1. @Mike, thanks for sharing your story and couldn’t agree more on how to support Ajo!

  52. Alejandrina Ramirez says:

    I was born and raised in Ajo till 1967, during the big strick. We moved to Tucson and shortly thereafter my father got on with Southern Peru copper corporation as a foreman. We stayed in Toquepala,Peru 4 years. A 3 hour Flight to Tacna to get to Toqepala. Just reading your article touched my heart. Gaining a desire to go back to my hometown, realizing how homesick I really am after all these years. Much memories fly through my mind, of all the good times, hardly any bad times, we had in our beautiful town of Ajo, Arizona. A safe place for children to be raised for sure.
    Thank you for your article. It was very enjoying, and gave me, my memories Back.
    Blessings to all.
    truly Heart Felt.

    1. @Alejandrina, thank you so much for your message and it is so nice to see the support of Ajo from residents and former residents near and far!

  53. I’m at the Sonoran dessert Inn now make sure you follow the directions they send you so you end up in front not the back you park out in front guest parking Clean room nice plenty of towels etc spacious cute interesting cute gift shop at office can get menu for foods they have and buy local art work paintings earrings postcards Employees Very Helpful kind an Professional very comfortable give it a chance glad I’m staying here cute town very close just down the street room has fridge coffee microwave desk chairs again comfortable quite peaceful nice sleep Thank You