Visitors traveling along I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak at Picacho Peak State Park. The park and surrounding area are known for its unique geological significance, outstanding and varied desert growth, and historical importance. The unique shape has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times.
In March, the annual “Civil War in the Southwest” event marks a skirmish of the American Civil War fought near a rocky spire called Picacho Peak. The new highway follows the old wagon route that passed Picacho in 1862. This event brings visitors from around the country to experience authentic historic re-enactments complete with lifestyles of the soldiers in the southwest during the 1860s. More than 200 re-enactors come in from many states and camp at Picacho Peak State Park with their Civil War camping gear.
In the spring, depending on the rainfall, there is an abundance of wildflowers including Mexican Gold poppies that cover the mountain. As the spring gets warmer, the Mexican Gold poppies are replaced with yellow brittlebush and yellow creosote. Later the mountainsides will turn from mostly yellow to purple as the purple lupine starts to overshadow the Mexican Gold poppies and then the cactus flowers will bloom.
There are five hiking trails at the park that vary in difficulty. Before you hike at Picacho Peak, be prepared with enough water, proper footwear, and gloves for cable railing, as the trails are steep and challenging. The Hunter Trail (2 miles to the peak) and Sunset Vista Trail (3.1 miles to the peak) both take you through saguaros, chollas and ocotillos that dot the desert landscape.
Picacho Peak State Park has 85 electric and non-electric campsites. Campsites are equipped with picnic areas, ramadas, grills, dump station, restroom, showers, trails, historical markers and playground. Group areas for day and overnight use are also available. Reservations for camping can be made 24-hours-a-day at AZStateParks.com or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) seven days per week.
The Park Entrance Fee is $7 per vehicle (up to four adults). Primitive to full hookup camping sites are available at a fee of $15 to $25 depending on the type of camping site needed. Picacho Peak State Park is located off I-10, on exit 219, 60 miles south of Phoenix, and 40 miles north of Tucson.
For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the trails, Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and the State Historic Preservation Office, call (602) 542-4174. For those outside the Phoenix area, call (800) 285-3703. Or visit the website at AZStateParks.com, Twitter/Facebook AZStateParks.
What: Picacho Peak State Park is open seasonaly, with closures between May 24 and Sept. 13. The park is located off Exit 219
Contact: Picacho Peak State Park’s mailing address is P.O. Box 907. Call the park at (520) 466-3183.
Park Fees: Park Entrance Fees: Per Vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7; Individual/Bicycle: $3
Camping Fees: Electric site: $25
Group Area (Non- Electric site): $15
More information: For more on the park, visit the Arizona State Parks website at www.azparks.com/Parks/PIPE.