Picacho Peak State Park

Written by on March 3, 2015 in AZ Outdoor Adventures - 1 Comment

Picacho Peak is hard to miss, if not for its distinctive shape then for the fact that it is the only significant peak for miles around, rising like a cathedral against the untamed Sonoran Desert landscape. Even though bizarre-looking Picacho Peak looks much like a volcanic neck or cone, it is actually the faulted, tilted and eroded remains of a sequence of lava flows, except for the summit, which contains a large block of Precambrian granite.

Picacho Peak has always carried a certain mystique, for many years I put the mountain in the back of my mind with all of Arizona’s other geographical and historical oddities. Being close to Interstate 10, I used the mountain in the same way that it has been used for centuries; as a travel landmark. On the road between Phoenix and Tucson I would typically look upon Picacho Peak and think, “You’ll be home soon.”

But I recently discovered that Picacho Peak is also a great place to go hiking. Located between Casa Grande and Tucson, Picacho Peak State Park is easily found just off the interstate. Those seeking an easier hike can keep to the Barret Loop at the base of the peak while those looking for a challenge can attempt the climb to the top.

Many travel guides underrate the difficulty of the ascent. While there are handrails in the trickier spots, the casual hiker might find the climb a bit too complicated at times. But even a partial climb is worth the effort as spectacular views abound from every side of Picacho Peak.

Go before dusk and witness Arizona’s patented beautiful sunset. Go during spring and see the desert floor covered with yellow wildflowers. Go in March and witness a reenactment of the Battle of Picacho Pass.

The most significant Civil War battle in Arizona took place near Picacho Peak on April 15, 1862. A detachment of Union troops from California attacked a Confederate scouting party. The battle was short, lasting only a little over an hour and three Union soldiers were killed. Every March, over two hundred people converge on Picacho Peak on foot and horseback to re-enact the battle. Visitors can enjoy watching the exciting mock battles that took place in Arizona and New Mexico during the Civil War.

Picacho Peak State Park that surrounds this iconic landmark includes a visitor center with exhibits and a gift store, playground, historical markers, campground, picnic areas, ramadas, grills, dump station, restrooms, and showers. The group use areas, for day & overnight use, are available by reservation.

Other attractions in the area include:
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Saguaro National Park
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Top 10 Things To Do In Tucson

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