PICACHO PEAK STATE PARK
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.
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.
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.
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
The new Picacho Peak State Park Visitor Center is now open! The building rates Silver on the Energy & Environmental Design Green Building Rating System (LEEDS). The Visitor Center has public restrooms, a gift shop, plus vending machines with energy drinks and snacks. Hours vary, but are typically 8 am to 5 pm. Interpretive exhibits are still being developed and will installed soon. Come see Arizona State Parks first Silver LEEDs building!
The gift shop, inside the Visitor Center sells maps, bottled water, magnets, collectibles, hiking books, souvenirs, and more. There are also vending machines with energy drinks and snacks. Hours vary, but are typically 8 am to 5 pm.