Jutting out of the Sonoran Desert some 1,500 feet, you can’t help but see Picacho Peak for miles as you drive along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. Travelers have used the peak for centuries as a landmark and continue to enjoy the state park’s 3,747 acres for hiking, rock climbing, spring wildflowers, and camping.
The rocks of Picacho Peak have seen the passing of prehistoric humans, Spanish explorers, gold miners on their way West, Mormon soldiers, and, most notably, Civil War combatants. On April 15, 1862, Union and Confederate troops clashed in the Battle of Picacho Pass, the only Civil War battle in Arizona and the westernmost battle in the war. Each year, the park hosts a re-enactment commemorating the battles of Picacho Pass, Glorieta Pass, and Valverde.
Picacho Peak is part of an eroded volcanic flow and is famous for its spring wildflower display, mostly Mexican poppies. The wildflowers are especially impressive after a rainy winter.
Biosphere2Explore exhibits in the visitor center or browse for souvenirs. The park has many hiking trails, a playground, historical markers, campground, picnic areas, ramadas, grills, dump station, restrooms, and showers. Day and overnight camping is allowed in group-use areas. Be sure to bring enough water and proper footwear for the park’s challenging hiking trails. The Hunter Trail, a 4-mile round-trip trek, is strenuous (steel cables and planks are in place for the steepest parts), but worth the dazzling view at the summit.
Picacho Peak State Park is an easy day trip off Interstate 10 from accommodations in Tucson (44 miles) and Phoenix (75 miles). Park your RV or bring a tent and stay at a campground inside the park. Picacho Peak is a short distance from other diversions including a Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, skydiving facility in Eloy, Biosphere 2, and Ironwood Forest National Monument.
Open year-round, 5 a.m. – 9 p.m., gates close at 10 p.m.
Park Entrance Fees:
PO Box 275
Picacho Peak, AZ 85241