Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

On our recent trip to central Texas to view the total eclipse, we found this gem of Picacho Peak State Park AZ. We had passed it many times on our travels but had never stopped. We did a day trip into the park on our way to Texas and camped there on our way back to California.

State park entrance sign
Entrance sign

To use this map click on the icon in the upper left corner to pull down the menu and select points of interest from there.

The Visitors Center

The center offers a wealth of information about the park’s history, geology, and diverse flora and fauna. We were greeted by knowledgeable staff eager to share insights and tips for navigating the park’s network of trails, I was surprised they had a pet dinosaur, and a likeness of a past alien visitor. The center is where we learned about the Civil War battle fought in the area.

The Civil War Battle

It was fun learning about the history of the park. Did you know that there was a Civil War battle there? The Civil War battle at Picacho Peak in Arizona occurred on April 15, 1862. It was a small engagement, but its impact resonated beyond its size. Union cavalry clashed with Confederate scouts in a skirmish that highlighted the struggle for control over the Southwest. The Battle of Picacho Peak in Arizona is often regarded as one of the westernmost conflicts of the Civil War, but it’s not definitively the westernmost. Other engagements occurred farther west, particularly in California and New Mexico but I read that it was the westernmost battle where fatalities were involved. Two Union Soldiers are interned in San Francisco and the Lieutenant who led the Union patrol was buried at the site in an unmarked grave and the site has since been lost.

The Camping

There are three main loops at Picacho Peak State Park AZ for RV camping. Loops A, B, and C all have electric hookups, but no sewer or water. We camped in site C3, which was a pull-through with a gravel pad and picnic table. All of the sites were spacious and could accommodate trailers and RVs. There were giant Saguaro cactus throughout the campsites. We have stayed at Saguaro National Park before and I would rate this Arizona State Park right up there with the national park as far as scenery goes. They do ask that you bring all of your water with you as they are in drought conditions right now and there is no water available in the campground. A dump station on the way out of the campgrounds is available. There are also three group sites available along with some tent sites.

The Hiking

Hunter Trail

Getting to the top of the peak seemed to be the most popular hike in the park. This hike starts on the Hunter Trail and is rated as difficult with an elevation gain of 1,352 feet in 1.6 miles with cables used on part of the climb. I didn’t do this hike, limiting myself to more moderate and easy hikes.

Sunset Vista Trail

This is a hike that I did up to where it joins the Hunter trail for the journey to the top. It is a moderate hike with scenic vistas and intimate encounters. It was 2.6 miles out and back for a total of 5.2 miles.

Sunrise and sunset at Picacho Peak State Park AZ

As always, these are my favorite times of the day for getting out and taking photos. The saguaro cacti were abundant and the scenery was spectacular. Picacho Peak State Park will be a place we will return to for its serene beauty and location not far off of Interstate 10 which makes it an easy spot to get to on our travels.

Leave a Comment