The first year that we traveled, we didn’t know where to go or what to do. We were just winging it.
and loving the adventure of it all.
When our first state park didn’t end up being a good fit for us (thanks to some creepy stalker taking pics of our little girls), we moved to Picacho Peak. And boy were we ever glad we did! It quickly became dear to us, and it still is!
Located immediately off of I-10, an hour south of Phoenix, and 40 minutes north of Tucson, this Arizona State Park is a great stop for RVers!
Sometimes, when you enter the park, you can see javalina off to the left of the road between the entrance gate and the ranger houses. We didn’t get to see any on this short stay but we have seen them multiple times before.*Picacho Peak, which the park is named for, is the left point on the far mountain in the middle, right above the picnic area shelter. ‘The saddle’ is the lower part on the right side of the pic.
Picacho Peak is one of several small mountains that jut up from what is otherwise a fairly level desert plain. Rising 1500 feet above the park, the peak is a popular destination for serious hikers, which the park’s numerous other trails are a draw to the casual roamer as well.
We like Picacho Peak for numerous of reasons!
Yes, we have hiked the peak numerous times (well, some of us) – in fact, Joel hiked it the first time we were here, cables and planks and all. He was 6. (please don’t attempt that unless yours is used to hiking, and obedient! lol.)
We love that the rv sites have electricity (there is a dump station and water available also), and the bathhouses are neat and clean. And we even like the scorpions. when they are outside and we are blacklighting them. NOT when I find on in my towel in the shower. We really love all the opportunities to get out and explore via the many hiking trails!
The visitor’s center is small, but the friendly rangers there have maps that show the different hikes around Picacho, including difficulty recommendations and mile lengths. They can also give you time frame recs, tho they did tell me to give 4 hours for a round trip saddle hike, and 2 to do the peak from the picnic area (so about one from the saddle). You can check out the map of the park here, and plan your excursions ahead of time!…PIPE_Park_Map (the boys did the Sunset Trail, starting at the Trail Head,up to the peak, then came down Hunter Trail to that trail head).
The boys were on a mission to do it during our short stay, and after we set up for the night, they set out – did the saddle hike, adding in the peak, and were done in 2.5 hours. They were on a mission!
Spring is our favorite time to visit Picacho (tho anytime in winter is lovely too!) – the cactus are in bloom, and they are stunning…
Picacho Peak is some rugged country, as is much of Arizona, but it is stunningly beautiful! We love the saguaro best of all the cactus – they have so much character! And while the desert looks pretty barren from afar, when we get up close and check it out, there are so many different plants that are not familiar to us.
During our first visit to Arizona over 5 years ago, we thought, ‘this is so ugly, why would anyone want to live here?’, but now we find it has a draw on us, and we love to spend time here!
Nearly to the peak…
On the hike from the saddle to the peak, there are several sets of cables.
Lots of rocks. Well, it’s just a really big rock, so the guys usually wear their gloves.
From the saddle…
Love to see brothers take off and do stuff together. The boys started on this hike late (I won’t admit what time – not too worried if they had to sleep on the mountain. lol.), but wanted to do the peak, so they left their dad and Joel at the saddle, and climbed to the peak.
(just above the saddle. the campground is those little white dots way down there between their caps)
On top of the world…
The boys took a few pics, then headed down so they could make it back to the picnic area before dark. They almost made it. rofl. (the mountain closes at dusk. shhh!
Love the beauty of the desert!
We also love Picacho Peak’s rich history!
Did you know that there was a Civil War battle in Arizona??? We hadn’t either until our first visit to the park. And maybe ‘battle’ is a little bit of an exaggeration, but there was certainly a conflict when Confederate and Union scouting parties met here, and the Battle of Picacho Pass followed.
There are plaques and monuments that explain, and commemorate, the event.
We missed it by just a week, but every March the park hosts a weekend long commemoration of the event with a reenactment and other CW era displays/exhibits.
Very family friendly, and educational, we always enjoy hiking the trail and learning more about the different plants in this area. The first year we were in awe; we had no idea there were so many different cactus! Now we are a little more knowledgeable, but still enjoy the walk.
Barrel Cactus fruit…
Did you know that cactus produce fruit? We hadn’t. Down here in Arizona, the fruit of the Saguaro is especially popular, kind of a regional specialty, and you can purchase ice cream, jelly, candy, and other foods made from the fruit of the saguaro. The kids weren’t horribly impressed with the ice cream – tho it was ice cream, so they didn’t complain either!
We have grown to love the Arizona desert.Especially in the springtime. Far from barren, and certainly not unpopulated by native animals, there is so much beauty to see here if you bother to stop and notice.
The sunsets aren’t too bad here either.
Picacho Peak State Park is our favorite Arizona State Park! It’s great for RVers whether it’s for a layover, or for exploring in and from. Campsites are $25/night for 30/50 amp sites (no water/sewer, but available closeby), and are big family, big rig friendly! You can find out more about Picacho Peak on their Arizona State Parks website, here. Check it out, then come back and let us know what you thought of it!