Have you visited or planning a visit to Picacho Peak State Park? Here are some reasons to visit Picacho Peak State Park.
Picacho Peak has served as a landmark in the middle of southern Arizona since prehistoric times. Even in modern times, it’s impossible to miss this significant peak now in Picacho Peak State Park when you’re traveling through the area. That being said, whether you’re passing through on a larger road trip or simply looking to get out of Phoenix or Tucson for the day, we highly recommend checking out Picacho Peak State Park to get a closer look and enjoy a number of impressive views and quality hiking trails.
If you’re considering a visit to Picacho Peak State Park, keep scrolling down. This article will tell you all about what Picacho Peak State Park is known for as well as the park’s must-see spots, hiking trails, general park information, picnic grounds, camping opportunities, and nearby accommodations.
1. What is Picacho Peak State Park Known For?
Picacho Peak State Park has a deep significance to the state of Arizona, as its presence has guided travelers for centuries (now, it’s right along Interstate 10). In addition to an impressive history, the park is well known for its wildlife and hiking trails.
The unique shaped towering presence of the 1,500 foot Picacho Peak has been used as a landmark to guide travel since well before modern times. Although it is largely assumed that early hunter-gatherers also used this landmark, the first written records did not occur until the 1700s. At that time, the Anza Expedition passed through the area. Of all of the history surrounding this state park, Picacho Peak’s most famous event occurred on April 15 of 1862. On that day, the Confederate and Union met at the Battle of Picacho Pass during the Civil War — the largest Civil War clash to take place in Arizona.
In the early 1960s, the Arizona State Parks Department started to recognize that the unique geological significance, interesting desert landscape, and historical importance of this area needed to be preserved. By the 1970s, Picacho Peak State Park came to be as it is known today.
Picacho Peak State Park offers a prime example of Sonoran Desert wildlife. Mammals such as jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, desert pocket mice, Mexican free-tailed bats, coyotes, badgers, bobcats, javelinas, and foxes are frequently seen throughout the year. More rarely, visitors report spotting wild porcupine, ringtail cats, and mountain lions.
Several reptiles and invertebrates can be spotted throughout the park as well. If you spend a day searching for wildlife in the area, you likely won’t come out disappointed!
Picacho Peak State Park is home to a number of incredible trails that are just begging you to bust out your hiking shoes and water bottle! The higher you go, the more incredible the views become. No matter your skill level, there’s a trail here that can provide exactly what you’re looking for.
2. Top Spots to See at Picacho Peak State Park
In addition to hiking to Picacho Peak itself, we also recommend planning a trip to this state park during the wildflower season. While they are unable to determine precisely when the best blooms might occur, this park is very well known for its display of golden wildflowers. After winter rains, an explosion of Mexican Gold Poppies paints the side of the mountain. This is an absolute must-see!
To check in on the current state of wildflowers at Picacho Peak State Park before your visit, check out the wildflower update page on their website. Here, you’ll find constantly updated photos of the current wildflowers at the park so you can get a better idea of what to expect.
3. Hiking and Trails Information
If Picacho Peak State Park is known for anything, it’s known for its scenic hiking trails. You can spend the whole day exploring this mountain peak and taking in new views of the surrounding area. We know climbing to the peak of a mountain sounds pretty difficult, but don’t worry; there are hikes available for all levels of hikers. Here are some examples:
- Picacho Peak Nature Trail – a 0.5-mile trail that will give children an interactive view of the surrounding area.
- Calloway Trail – a 1.5-mile hike round trip that leads to an overlook. This is a great option if you’re not ready to hike all the way to the top, but want to see the surrounding area from a higher perspective.
- Sunset Vista Trail – a 3.1-mile hike one-way that gains elevation and rises in difficulty as you go. To get to the top of the peak on this route, you will have to use steel cables anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare and difficult to climb. This trail is not recommended during hot weather seasons and gloves are strongly recommended when using the steel cables.
- Hunter Trail – a 2.0-mile trail one way and likely the most famous trail at Picacho Peak. This hike will take you to the top of the peak via a steep and twisting trail, with steel cables (gloves are recommended) anchored into the rock in places where the surface is bare. The views are incredible and, trust us, you’ll want to do this hike again the moment you finish it!
Remember that when you’re hiking in high altitudes, the weather can be very unpredictable. We recommend you wear layers, bring sun protection and water, and wear sensible shoes. And as always, be sure to tell someone where you’re heading!
4. Park and Camping Information
Park and Facility Hours
Picacho Peak State Park is open from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm year-round, and the park’s trails are open from sunrise to sunset. The Picacho Peak Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and provides public restrooms, a gift shop, and vending machines.
Day-Use Entrance Fees
- Per Vehicle (up to four adults): $7
- Per Individual or Bicycle: $3
Day-Use Picnic Areas
There are picnic tables available on a first-come, first-served basis all throughout the park. Several of these picnic areas come with a shaded ramada and many are wheelchair accessible. Ask a Park Ranger for specific information.
Group-Use Picnic Areas
There are four ramadas inside of Picacho Peak State Park that can be rented for large group activities in advance. If these ramadas are not reserved in advance, they are available to park visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Cholla Ramada – Offers our picnic tables with their own grills, a water spigot, and electric outlets. This group ramada is also wheelchair accessible and located near parking, restrooms, hiking trails, and a playground.
- Ocotillo Ramada – Offers four picnic tables with their own grills, a water spigot, and electric outlets. This group ramada is also wheelchair accessible and located near parking, restrooms, hiking trails, and a playground.
- Ironwood Ramada – Offers four picnic tables, a large group grill, a fire pit, and a water spigot. This group ramada is also wheelchair accessible and located near parking, restrooms, hiking trails, and a playground.
- Mesquite Ramada – Offers four picnic tables with their own grills. This group ramada is not wheelchair accessible but is located relatively close to parking, restrooms, and hiking trailheads.
Tent and RV Camping Information
Picacho Peak State Park has a campground located within the park that offers a total of 85 sites available to both tent and RV campers — though generator use is not permitted. All of Picacho Park’s campsites include a picnic table, a fire pit, a fire grill, and wifi. Yes, you read that right! This state park offers complimentary wifi at every single campsite.
Picacho Peak State Park campground reservations can be made with the Arizona State Parks department online or by calling their reservations desk at 1-877-MY PARKS (697-2757) during normal office hours.
5. Where to Stay Near Picacho Peak State Park
Since Picacho Peak State Park is located just off of I-10, it’s easy to find nearby lodging in either direction. The closest town is Eloy, Arizona. Just 15 miles from Picacho Peak State Park. Another few minutes and in the same direction as Eloy is Casa Grande. There you’ll find a handful of restaurants and quality hotel options here. If you’re looking for something special, Airbnb has a number of great vacation rentals listed in the area as well!
Picacho Peak State Park has been both greeting and bidding farewell to Arizona travelers since before modern history. Whether you’ve known about this historic landmark your whole life or you’re just finding out about it now, it will still fill you with the same sense of awe and wonder. Hiking the trails and enjoying the scenery at this state park is something every Arizonian or Arizona traveler should be sure to check off of their list.