Only in Ajo will you find a place where the stark contrast of what once was collide so beautifully with what could be. In a town originally established solely to support the operations of the New Cornelia Mine - where segregation of the native Tohono O’odham, Mexican and Anglo workers was a daily reality - remnants of old buildings, divided communities and the whisper of resilience still stand.

Ajo is a community where you immediately feel a sense of warmth, authenticity and peace; surrounded on all sides by thousands of acres of the Sonoran Desert, enveloped by endless stars in the nighttime sky. Ajo is a community rich in resources, culture and creativity. In a climate where you would expect only cactus to thrive, indigenous crops have sprouted a flourishing sustainable agriculture movement. Old buildings of the past now dance under the vivid colors of stunning murals that encompass the convergence of Ajo’s ethnic diversity. The fully rehabilitated Curley School Artisan Apartments house artists from all over the world. The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center blends heritage and spirit in a beautiful space for retreats, weddings or as the launchpad for a desert expedition. At the center of it all sits the historic Ajo Plaza: an expanse of lush green lawn, surrounded by Spanish Colonial Revival storefronts, and arched walkways covered by one continuous terra cotta roof. The Plaza serves as a gathering place for the community; where morning walks, coffee breaks, festivals and events bring cultures, families, friends and visitors together to enjoy and respect differences and similarities.

Ajo is a place where transformation happens. From dilapidated buildings to art, from desert dust to thriving crops, and from segregation to collaboration, Ajo continues to evolve. Only in Ajo will you find a community that embodies new life, growth, strength and peace with a humility and authenticity that honors the origins from which it arose.

How To Use

Use this interactive itinerary to build your trip! Each category recommends a number of stops to help you get the fullest experience during your visit. Simply hover over any photo for a brief description then click the circle to add a listing to your itinerary (click again to remove it). Once you've completed your itinerary, enter your email address and click submit to have it delivered straight to your inbox. Happy traveling!

Arts & Culture (Recommended up to 2)

Ajo’s tri-cultural heritage has supplied endless inspiration to artists from around the world. With wonderful displays of public art, community art and an overall atmosphere of creativity, the Ajo community has become a melting pot for arts and culture. Ajo welcomes group travelers from all over the world. If you'd like to request a customized Ajo experience for your next group trip, please fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

With 24 stops along the way, the Ajo Self-Guided Walking Tour provides artistic sights that you won’t find anywhere else. From mosaics to murals; tombstones to yard art this truly is one of the most unique art tours in AZ.

Ajo Art Self-Guided Walking Tour

ACFA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and nurturing the cultural enrichment of Ajo and the surrounding area. Active committees include theater, art, music, technical support, Discus Auditorium, and membership.

Ajo Council for the Arts (ACFA)

Art Under the Arches is a fine art gallery that operates as a collective. Situated in the Historic Ajo Plaza, the gallery features paintings, photographs and sculptures from more than 20 local and regional artists.

Art Under the Arches

The Clay Studio is a free workspace developed for Curley School artists and the community. The studio is managed by Curley School artist Karen Sucharski. Anyone interested is invited to drop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 1 and 4 PM.

Clay Studio

Housed in the offices of Ajo Copper News, a local newspaper publisher, this gallery houses unique artwork. A self-proclaimed haven for “low-brow” art, the Back Room Gallery features interesting work without taking itself too seriously.

Copper News Bookstore & Backroom Gallery

The Curley School Campus is a landmark you won’t want to miss. These beautiful live-work apartments put Ajo on the map as a center of artistic endeavor. Local artists display and sell their wares through the Gallery inside the school.

Curley School Artisan Apartments & Gallery

This unique mural exhibit is the result of the collaboration of artists coming together from all over the world to portray their rendition of Ajo. Alley walls are continually transformed as murals continue to be added and expanded over time.

Street Art Alley

History, Heritage, & Tradition (Recommended up to 4)

Ajo sits at a tri-national intersection of peoples and cultures, where influences from the indigenous Tohono O’odham Nation, the Mexican state of Sonora, and the Southwest borderlands of the United States are all readily apparent. And although mining is deeply rooted in the history and architecture of Ajo, the town continues to evolve into a community that is carving out its own identity while still respecting the traditions of its past.

The International Sonoran Desert Alliance offers walking tours of Ajo’s historic town center. Don’t miss out on this behind-the-scenes look. Tour departs from the Plaza Park at 10:00 AM every 2nd Saturday from October through May.

2nd Saturday Walking Tours

Sitting in the heart of the Historic Ajo Plaza, the Visitors Center is the perfect place to begin your exploration of the area and will provide a multitude of suggestions for how best to experience all that Ajo has to offer.

Ajo Visitors Center

The plaza encompasses the old train depot and features 90,000 square feet of commercial space. The plaza’s center park acts as the town’s center and is a beautiful place for local festivals, celebrations, local gatherings and exercise.

The Historic Ajo Plaza

Wine & Dine (Recommended up to 4)

Ajo is a great place to grab a hearty meal. With restaurateurs that are dedicated to providing a memorable dining experience, you can be assured that Ajo’s food selection will not disappoint. From gourmet burgers to authentic Mexican food, Ajo offers a multitude of options to feed your appetite.

Agave Grill is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner while in Ajo, especially if you’re a “meat & potato” connoisseur. Agave Grill embraces every opportunity to be creative and make sure its guests enjoy their dining experience.

Agave Grill

The ARFP is a remarkable collaboration working to create a truly local food system in Ajo. Contributions include a communal commercial kitchen, the ‘Get Going, Get Growing’ youth internship program, and the Many Hands Urban Farm co-op.

Ajo Regional Food Partnership (ARFP)

Granny's is a great place to get good, authentic Sonoran Mexican food.. They have local classics like red and green chile and enchiladas sonorenses. They also serve burgers and sandwiches for those seeking something less picante.

Granny’s Kitchen

A popular spot for locals, Oasis Coffee serves up specialty coffee drinks and delicious treats until 4:00 pm daily while looking over the beautiful historical Ajo Plaza. Feeling adventurous? Ask about tours of the co-located Oasis Theater.

Oasis Coffee

This Cafe offers a wide variety of delicious lunch offerings, including homemade hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and fried chicken meals. Get in early as they close at 6 PM from Monday - Saturday and 5 PM on Sundays. 

Olsen’s Patio Cafe

Tacos el Tarasco brings its unique take on the flavors of Michoacan, Mexico to the beautiful Plaza restaurant space. In addition to food service, it has a variety of private venues that are perfect for wedding receptions and quinceaneras.

Tacos el Tarasco Restaurant

If you’re looking for something that screams place-based experience, then look no further. The Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center hosts regular pop-up meals that double as gateways to a truly authentic experience.

Sonoran Desert Inn Kitchen

Outdoor Sports & Recreation (Recommended up to 2)

Ajo has recently evolved into a haven for outdoor sports and recreation. With a limitless expanse of the pristine Sonoran Desert on all sides, Ajo serves as a gateway for avid hikers, mountain bikers, bird watchers, environmentalists and stargazers.

This 9-hole course is truly an oasis in the desert. With tree lined fairways and small greens, strategic shots are a must here. With an on-site restaurant and a nearby airstrip, this is a popular spot for recreational pilots too.

Ajo Community Golf Course

The Virgil Ellis Memorial Shooting Range is a 200-yard range that is free to use and is open year-round from dawn to dusk.  There are also a static archery range and desert bicycle trails in the works.

Ajo Regional Park and Shooting Range

Regularly offering Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, Aerobics and Massage, Bonzai Studio is a hub for health, wellness and relationships. The spacious venue also hosts workshops, pop-up art shows, dance parties and is available for private events.

Bonzai Studio

Originally established as a ‘game range’ for bighorn sheep, the landscape now functions as an 860,000-acre wildlife refuge. Visitors will be able to observe and photograph wildlife, camp, and learn about the environment.

Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge

This Pima County-run park includes a dog park, skate park, lighted baseball fields, basketball courts, shaded playground, exercise stations, ramadas with tables and grills, and a pool (open Memorial Day to Labor Day).

E.S. “Bud” Walker Park

Ajo is located at the heart of the Sonoran Desert and has miles of some of the best mountain biking trails in Southern AZ. Visit the Ajo Chamber for trail maps.

Mountain Biking

Twenty-six species of cacti have adapted to this beautiful reserve. Come enjoy a scenic drive, developed trail rides, interactive ranger programs, wilderness hikes, or a night of camping under the dark skies of the Sonoran Desert

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

The Ajo area is a mecca for big rigs, glampers, and 5th-wheeled wanderers alike. You can find everything from the La Siesta RV Resort with a pool, to a cleared patch of Sonoran Desert with a view, and everything in between.

RV Parks

This 10.4-mile drive goes around the now-closed open pit mine through a strikingly beautiful section of the Sonoran Desert where you have a good chance to spot wildlife. Camping and RV ‘boondocking’ are allowed for up to 14 days on BLM land.

Scenic Loop

Local Lodging (Recommended up to 2)

If you are looking for a fun environment to enjoy Ajo and camp or hook up an RV, book here. Make new friends at this location where visitors form a family no matter how long they stay.

Coyote Howls Park

This charming Ajo Bed & Breakfast is your perfect place to stay if you are looking for a truly one-of-a-kind spot that takes you back in time and makes you feel at home.

Guest House Inn Bed & Breakfast

This RV park offers a getaway into the regions outdoor beauty. Step out of your camping spot and catch an instant glimpse of  places to hike, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.

Hickiwan Trails RV Park

You might not expect to find a cabin experience in the desert, but this quaint motel delivers just that. Enjoy their great service and a surprisingly luxurious Ajo experience.

La Siesta Motel & RV Resort

Take your RV to this one of a kind RV Resort. Enjoy friendly neighbors, great service, and access to the Ajo community. Explore local artists and scenery that sits nearby.

Shadow Ridge RV Resort

Serving as a gateway to the natural, cultural and recreational resources of the Sonoran Desert, this historic elementary school features 21 guest rooms, event space and is situated within minutes of over 12 million acres of open wilderness

Sonoran Desert Inn & Conference Center

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