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Picacho Peak State Park 'Picacho Peak' © John Hunnicutt II
Taken of the south face during sunset with a little banner cloud hovering at the top.
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USA Parks
Arizona
Phoenix & Central Region
Picacho Peak State Park
PICACHO PEAK STATE PARK
PICACHO PEAK STATE PARK
P.O. Box 275
Picacho Peak, Arizona   85241

Phone: 520-466-3183
Picacho Peak State Park
'Picacho Peak'
© All photos are copyrighted by John Hunnicutt II

Taken of the south face during sunset with a little banner cloud hovering at the top.

Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can't miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak and, often in the spring, overlook a sea of wildflowers. 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. One of the first recordings was in the 1700s by the Anza Expedition as it passed through the area.

The park facilities include a visitor center with exhibits and a gift store, hiking trails, playground, historical markers, campground (with or without electric), picnic areas, ramadas, grills, dump station, restrooms, and showers. The group use areas, for day & overnight use, are available by reservation. Before you hike, be prepared with enough water and proper footwear as the trails are steep and challenging.
Nature of the Area
The park offers a natural habitat for many of the animals found in the Sonoran Desert. This includes many species of mammals and reptiles as well as a large number of birds. (Bird lists are available at the Visitor Center.) The park is home to a number of invertebrates as well.

Mammals frequently seen include Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Desert Cottontail Rabbit, Roundtail Ground Squirrel, Harris Antelope Squirrel, Rock Squirrel, Desert Pocket Mouse, Mexican Freetailed Bat, Kangaroo Rat. Coyote, Badger, Skunk, Racoon, Bobcat, Desert Mule Deer, Javelina, and Kit Fox are occasionally seen. Porcupine, Antelope Jackrabbit, Ringtail Cat, and Mountain Lion are rarely seen.

Reptiles frequently seen include Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Gopher Snake, Garter Snake, Coach Whip, Common Chuckwalla, Zebra-tailed Lizard, Tree Lizard, Western Banded Gecko, and the Side-Blotched Lizard. Tiger Rattlesnake, Mojave Rattlesnake, Desert Tortoises, and the Regal Horned Lizard are infrequently seen. Gila Monsters are rarely seen.

The Sonoran Desert Toad (an amphibian) has been spotted in the park during the monsoon season.

Invertebrates that can be seen at Picacho Peak include Giant Desert Centipede, Desert Hairy Scorpion, Tail-less Whipscorpion, , Western Black Widow Spider, and Fiddleback Spider. The most frequently seen invertebrates are probably the Desert Tarantula in the fall, and Sun Spiders and the Bark Scorpion year-round.

Birds are abundant and include Vultures, Hawks, Doves, Owls, Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Flycatchers, Jays, Wrens, Sparrows, Finches, Warblers, and many more. Please refer to the bird list available at the contact station. Some of the most commonly seen species include Turkey Vulture, Red-Tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Gambel Quail, Mourning Dove, Gila Woodpecker, Gilded Flicker, Curve-billed Thrasher, Canyon Towhee, House Finch, Common Raven, Cactus Wren, and Costa's Hummingbird.
History of the Area
Picacho Peak was often used as a landmark by early explorers. During the 17th century, dedicated Jesuit priest Father Kino mentioned Picacho Peak in records of his journeys into Arizona, and in 1775, the DeAnza Expeditions passed by the Peak. In 1846, the Mormon Battalion, on their way to California to fight in the war with Mexico, constructed a wagon road through Picacho Pass. The forty-niners traveled the same road on their way to California, and in 1858, mail and passengers traveled this route via the Butterfield Overland Stage. This route is now used by the Transcontinental Railroad.

The most significant Civil War battle in Arizona took place near Picacho Peak on April 15, 1862, when an advance detachment of Union forces from California attacked a Confederate scouting party. The battle lasted for 1-1/2 hours, and three Union soldiers were killed. Every March, "The Civil War in the Southwest" comes alive again as over two hundred re-enactors converge on Picacho Peak on foot and horseback. Visitors enjoy viewing exciting mock battles that took place in Arizona and New Mexico during the Civil War. Also on display at the March reenactment are recreated military camps and living history demonstrations.
Camping
Picacho Peak State Park's campground has a total of 85 sites for both tent and RV camping. All sites are first come-first served. Access to all sites is paved. Sites are fairly level and are located in a natural Sonoran Desert setting. Both back-ins and pull-throughs are available. No maximum size limit. All sites offer a picnic table and barbeque/fire ring. Many sites also offer ramadas, and some of the sites are handicapped-accessible. Use of the dump station is included in price for camping. Potable water is available at the dump station. Quiet hours are from 10 pm to 6 am. Generator use is not permitted during these hours. There are two modern, handicapped-accessible restroom and shower buildings available at no additional charge for campers.

Group Reservations: Camping

Raven Group Area: Tents only with 10 people minimum and 6 units (vehicles) maximum. Three campsites with picnic tables and fire-rings. Walking distance to restroom/showers and water. Group fire-ring, small ramada. Raven Group Area can be used on a first-come, first-served basis for Day Use if not reserved for the night.

Roadrunner Group Area: Tents only with 10 people minimum and 6 units (vehicles) maximum. Three campsites with picnic tables and fire-rings. Walking distance to restroom/showers and water. Group fire-ring, small ramada. Roadrunner Group Area can be used on a first-come, first-served basis for Day Use if not reserved for the night.

Quail Group Area:

Four, 4-table ramadas with group grill.Electrification to ramadas. Large group fire-ring. Eight scattered campsites with picnic tables & fire rings. Portable toilets & a water source. Access to campground's restroom/shower buildings. Set within all natural Sonoran Desert environment. Minimum of 15 units (vehicles) required for camping.

Jackrabbit Group Area:

Group Area is divided into two reservable sections, EAST & WEST. Large group fire-ring with group grill. Large group ramada. Electrification to the ramadas & water source. Scattered campsites with picnic tables & fire-rings. Portable toilets. Access to campground's restroom/shower buildings. Set within all natural Sonoran Desert environment. Minimum of 7 units (vehicles) required for camping, maximum 14 units per section. 15 units minimum for exclusive use of the entire area.

Electric RV Sites

62 electric sites with 20, 30, and 50 Amps receptacles at each site. 3 sites are handicapped-accessible. No water or sewer hookups are available.

Non Electric RV Sites

25 Non-electric sites, one of which is handicapped-accessible. No water or sewer hookups are available


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Day Use Area
Cholla Ramada: Four picnic tables & grills, water source. Maximum of 50 people. Wheelchair accessible. Electric (lighting and 110 volt outlets). Close proximity to parking, restrooms, hiking trails, and playground.

Ironwood Ramada: Four picnic tables, group grill, fire ring & water source. Maximum capacity 50 people. Wheelchair accessible Electric (lighting and 110 volt outlets). Close proximity to parking, restrooms, hiking trails.

Mesquite Ramada: Four picnic tables, group grill. Maximum capacity 50 people. Not Wheelchair accessible. Electric (lighting and 110 volt outlets) & water source. Close proximity to parking, restrooms, hiking trails.

Quail Group Area:

Four, 4-table ramadas with group grill. Electrification to ramadas. Large group fire-ring. Eight scattered picnic tables & fire rings. Portable toilets & a water source. Set within all natural Sonoran Desert environment. 75 person minimum/200 person maximum for day-use.

Jackrabbit Group Area:

Group Area is divided into two reservable sections, EAST & WEST. Large group fire-ring with group grill. A large group ramada. Electrification to the ramadas & water source. Scattered picnic tables & fire-rings. Portable toiletsSet within all natural Sonoran Desert environment. 50 person minimum/75 person maximum for day-use per section. 75 person minimum for exclusive use of the entire area.
Picnicking
Ramadas and other picnic areas with tables and barbeque grills are located throughout the park. Most picnic areas also offer shade roofs. Some are handicapped-accessible. Group reservations for day use are available.
Trails
Hiking trails at the park vary in difficulty. Weather can be unpredictable. Please be safe and wear suitable hiking boots. Gloves and water (2 liters per person) are strongly recommended.

Hunter Trail: 2.0 miles; difficult; begins on the north side from Barrett Loop and goes to the top of the peak. The trail climbs a resistant path typical of the Sonoran desert. The route is steep and twisting, with steel cables (gloves are recommended) anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare.

Sunset Vista Trail: 3.1 miles; moderate first 2 miles, becoming difficult; travels on the south side from the westernmost parking area and goes to top of peak.

Calloway Trail: 0.7 miles; moderate; leads to an overlook.

Nature Trail: 0.5 miles; easy; includes interpretive signs.

Children's Cave Trail: 0.2 miles; easy; includes interpretive signs.
Area Attractions
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

Located approx. 1 mile east of the park entrance, this commercial ranch offers an up-close and personal look at the ostriches that are raised here. You have the rare opportunity to hand-feed these critters. There is also a gift shop, and a lorikeet enclosure was recently added for the enjoyment of the visitor. The ranch also offers "monster truck" tours that proceed through the ostrich enclosures and into the desert around Picacho Peak.

Skydive Arizona

Experience the thrill of free-fall - This facility offers full services to experienced skydivers as well as a chance for beginners to participate in a tandem jump from a small airplane. A state-of-the-art simulator is also available that allows trying out this sport without ever leaving the ground.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

This area is being administered by the National Park Service and protects the ruins of an ancient dwelling of the Hohokam tribe. The visitor center offers excellent exhibits that interpret the history of the area and the people that inhabited it. Ranger-led tours as well as self-guided visits to the "Great House" ruins are available. The monument is located on 1100 West Ruins Drive in Coolidge.

Biosphere

Inside Biosphere 2, it only takes about one hour to visit many of the Earth's different ecosystems, from dry desert to lush green rainforest. Now open to the public, this giant glass enclosure was originally designed for a research experiment that was centered around the possibility and obstacles of self-sustaining space colonization. Between 1991 and 1994, research volunteers were sealed inside this "copy" of planet Earth to test the feasibility of survival.

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

This unusual, mostly outdoors museum combines natural history exhibits with a zoo and a botanical garden. This is the one place to visit to get answers to all of your questions about the Sonoran Desert.

Old Tucson Studios

Nicknamed "Arizona's Hollywood in the Desert", this Western movie set/family fun park will bring back memories of many famous old movies that were filmed here. There is also the opportunity to watch the filming of current new productions.

International Wildlife Museum

This natural history museum offers exhibits containing over 400 species of wildlife, including some prehistoric ones. Take a guided tour or explore at your own pace and learn about critters from around the world. Educational programs for grades 2 and 3-5 are available.

Ironwood Forest National Monument

The whitish-pink blooming, long-living ironwood tree is the namesake for this remote area that is being administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Explore one of the few remaining dense stands of Ironwood trees in the Sonoran Desert, but come prepared for travel on sandy roads that will lead you deep into the backcountry. Dry washes can turn into raging rivers here on a moment's notice after a monsoon storm. Four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicle recommended. This area is remote, undeveloped, and offers no facilities of any kind.

Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance

For more ideas and destinations around Southern Arizona, visit the Attractions Alliance online Dedicated to the Southern Arizona visitor, this website offers detailed information as well as web links to many more attractions in the area.
Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
March 12 Last 40 years by Chelle Hughes
Have shared the Peak in blazing heat to beautiful lightning storms, with wild burros nudging us with velvet noses to near misses with huge javalinas, many snakes, birds,lizards,a gorgeous ringtail (tail up), a similarly roasted, midsummer fox seeking shade in little cave off trail over rock with manmade chain pull. Much nicer in the old days with no pay and fairly pristine, but wonderful to share PP with humans, as well as spiders. No way to document all memories of frequent campers.
July 2 Even in Winter! by K. Tucker
My Partner and I visited Picacho Peak State Park in February and it was ideal to spend a couple of hours tramping, and later, sitting around a camp fire in the evening. The sunsets and rises were breathtaking and the delightfully soulful Silhouette of the peak and surrounding hills, backlit with stars and moonlight was worth every moment it took to travel there.


Area Accommodations (over 15 miles away)
Desert Rose Bed and Breakfast - Cottonwood, AZHotels/Motels
We offer world class luxury and amenities at an affordable small town price. Our quaint desert setting will give you the most authentic Arizona experience. We are very centrally located, within 16 miles of Sedona, Jerome, Cliff Castle Casino and Montezuma's Castle, and no more than 10 miles from at least 4 wineries.
Web Site: desertrosebandb.com
35.2 miles from park*
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Directions
The park is located off I-10, on exit 219; 60 miles south of Phoenix, and 40 miles north of Tucson.

USA Parks
Arizona
Phoenix & Central Region
Picacho Peak State Park
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