This is Ajo, Arizona
Ajo is a town of about 4000 people in southwestern Arizona. Once a copper mining community, Ajo became something of a retirement community in the 1980s after Phelps Dodge stopped mining operations. A recent influx of Border Patrol agents and a contingent of young people who don't want to live anywhere else have kept the town a mix of all ages.
Though sometimes called a "sleepy mining town", Ajo has never been ordinary. Even the name Ajo is different, and a bit of a mystery. Depending on whom you listen to, Ajo (pronounced AH-ho) comes from either a Tohono O'odham word for paint or the Spanish word for garlic.
For a small town, there's lots to do, with activities ranging from softball leagues to a theatre group and from church groups to golf clubs. There are many opportunities for volunteers who like to stay busy.
Things do occasionally go wrong and the community handles it in typical small-town style. Fires are fought by the Ajo/Gibson Volunteer Fire Department. Crime, and there is some, is fought by the Pima County Sheriff's Department. (Border Patrol, Customs, and Arizona DPS complete the community law enforcement roster.) Heath care is provided by the Desert Senita Community Health Center with emergency medical services handled by Ajo Ambulance.
Ajo is in the Sonoran Desert, tucked away in Western Pima County in Arizona, about 120 miles southwest of Phoenix and 130 miles west of Tucson. Ajo is landlocked with the Tohono O'odham Nation to the east, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to the south, and the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Goldwater Gunnery Range to the north and west.
The desert is far from desolate, it is home to abundant wildlife and plants despite not having much rain. Coyotes howl at the moon, roadrunners zip across highways, desert bighorn sheep climb mountains, and rattlesnakes scare the unwary amid palo verde trees, mesquite, majestic saguaros, and organ pipe cactus. In the spring, wildflowers carpet the desert while cacti sprout delicate blossoms.
In town, desert landscaping prevails, though the green plaza at the center of town is a spot people drive many miles to visit. The Plaza, with its surrounding Arizona Mission-style buildings, was built to be the community's "front yard". The lush grass is bordered by palm trees and other ornamental plantings, with park benches that invite people to sit and visit with friends.
Ajo's climate makes it an ideal cold season retreat. January temperatures average 64° maximum and 40° minimum. July temperatures average 108° maximum and 80° minimum. Yearly rainfall of 8.95" keeps the desert plants and wildlife abundant, although the current drought has kept the desert from blooming as profusely as in years past. Rarely is humidity over 56% and averages 37%. Spectacular sunsets silhouetting the mountains can be seen year-round.
The community has been served by a weekly newspaper, the Ajo Copper News, since 1916.
Ajo Community Links
Ajo History & Points of Interest
Map of Ajo, Arizona
Who Represents Us?
Ajo District Chamber of Commerce
ISDA (International Sonoran Desert Alliance)
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
Bureau Land Management - Phoenix Office