Picacho Peak State Park in Pinal County surrounds a unique landmark that has been used by travelers for centuries. Picacho is also famous (at least historically) – it was the location of the westernmost conflict during the Civil War – the 1862 Battle of Picacho Pass.
The 1,500 ft peak can be seen from downtown Tucson, some 45 miles away. This Arizona State park’s remote desert peak, cable-assisted 1,500 ft climb, trails, wildflowers (Mexican Gold Poppies), campground and abundant wildlife make it a popular tourist destination.
When you visit this famous western landmark you’ll not only have the opportunity to climb it but also to learn more about it and about the area surrounding it. Learn more from the many interpretive signs along the trails and by asking one of the many knowledgeable Rangers at the park.
Pack a picnic lunch and relax in one of the shaded picnic areas scattered throughout the park. Water, restrooms and a playground are available within the park to help make your visit more comfortable. Vending machines with snacks and energy drinks are located inside the visitor center. The gift shop carries guide books, maps, souvenirs, bottled water, apparel and more.
Here are some of the many activities that you can do during your visit to Picacho Peak State Park:
Trails at Picacho Peak State Park
Picacho Peak State Park has 7 trails of varying levels ranging from easy to difficult. This trail system winds through the Sonoran Desert, tall grasses, wildflowers and past large boulders as you climb up the peak.
Before attempting the trails make sure that you are wearing comfortable hiking boots, a hat, sunscreen and have a map and plenty of water (2-4 liters per person is strongly
recommended) with you. Give yourself plenty of time to hike and keep in mind that the trails are closed from sunset to sunrise.
Here are a couple of the trails at Picacho Peak State Park:
- Children’s Cave Trail – Easy .2 mile trail with interpretive signs that leads to a small alcove in the mountain.
- Calloway Trail – Moderate .5 mile trail out to an impressive overlook.
- Hunter Trail – Difficult 1.6 mile trail that goes all of the way to the top of the peak. Steel cables are in place along the climb up where the path is steep and the rock surface is bare. Gloves are strongly recommended to make it easier to grip the cables on the climb up.
- Sunset Vista Trail – Moderate to difficult 3.1 mile trail that starts on the south side of the peak up to the top. Steel cables are in place where the path becomes difficult, steep and twisting. This trail is not recommended during the summer.
Wildlife Viewing at Picacho Peak State Park
Explore the vast and beautiful Sonoran Desert and get a glimpse of some of the wildlife that lives within it. Bring your binoculars and look toward the skies, you may see a native or migrating bird. A few birds commonly seen here are red-tailed hawks, woodpeckers, falcons, hummingbirds, turkey vultures, wrens, sparrows and ravens.
While hiking or camping you may encounter a desert mule deer, fox, rabbit, rock squirrel, coyote, raccoon, bobcat, snakes, lizards and more.
Camping at Picacho Peak State Park
Spend the night beneath Picacho Peak in one of the park’s 85 electric campsites (no water or sewer connections available). Sites are back-in or pull-through and can accommodate either tents or RVs; 4 of these sites are also fully ADA accessible.
Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring/grill and many also have ramadas. Bathhouses and potable water available nearby campsites. High-speed WiFi internet access is now available for an additional charge.
Group camping areas are also available. Four separate sites may be reserved and can accommodate groups of 10 or more. These tent-only sites have picnic tables, ramadas, fire rings/grills and access to bathhouses and water.
Pets at Picacho Peak State Park
Pets are allowed at Picacho Peak State Park but must be attended to at all times and kept on a leash no longer than six-feet. Please clean up after your pet.
Become a Junior Ranger at Picacho Peak State Park
Junior Ranger Pledge: ‘As an Arizona State Parks Junior Ranger, I pledge to help the park rangers protect and preserve habitat, wildlife, and help keep the park clean and safe for visitors and wildlife.’
Encourage younger generations to do their part and help preserve the beauty of the parks for future visitors. If your child is between the ages of 6-12 they can become a Junior Ranger at Picacho Peak State Park.
All they need to do is download and complete the Junior Ranger Activity Sheet and then request a Junior Ranger booklet at the park’s visitor center once you’ve arrived at the park. Complete each of the activities during your stay.
When all of the activities have been completed report back to a Park Ranger who will swear your Junior Ranger in and award them with a Junior Ranger Button. Kids can become a Junior Ranger at most Arizona State Parks and earn each park’s unique Junior Ranger Button. Check out the For Kids section on each park’s website.
Attractions Near Picacho Peak State Park
McFarland State Historic Park – 24 W Ruggles St, Florence
Tour the historic building that was once a courthouse, sheriff’s office, jail and hospital.
Oracle State Park – 3820 E Wildlife Dr, Oracle
Day use park inside a 4,000 acre wildlife refuge along the foothills of the Catalina Mountains. This state park has more than 15 miles of hiking trails that intersect with the Arizona Trail.
Catalina State Park – 11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson
Miles of multi-use trails near the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Coronado National Forest.
Open Year Round
Park Hours: 5:00am – 10:00pm Daily
Trails are Open Sunrise to Sunset
Visitor Center/Park Store Hours:
9:00am – 3:00pm Sunday–Thursday
8:00am – 5:00pm Friday & Saturday
Park Entrance Fees:
Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
Picacho Peak State Park
15520 Picacho Peak Rd
Picacho, AZ 85141
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Picacho Peak State Park: