Picacho Peak State Park
|Picacho Peak State Park|
|Arizona State Park|
|- elevation||2,000 ft (610 m)|
|Area||3,747 acres (1,516 ha)|
|Management||Arizona State Parks|
Picacho Peak State Park is a state park of Arizona, USA, surrounding Picacho Peak. The park is located between Casa Grande and Tucson near Interstate 10 in Pinal County. Its centerpiece spire is visible from downtown Tucson, a distance of 45 miles (72 km). The summit rises to 3,374 feet (1,028 m) above mean sea level. Though appearing to be the remnant of a volcanic neck, it is now believed to be a tilted and eroded piece of rock overlain by a lava flow. The place name is redundant: "picacho" means "big peak" in Spanish.
The park is celebrated for wildflowers that appear mid-March to early April following good winter rain. Though set next to an interstate highway (10), the park's west face possesses an unspoiled Sonoran Desert setting. A small flat space on top of the spire can be reached via two trail heads. Portions of the trails are precarious, and hikers are aided by cables and catwalks, making the routes some of the few Via ferrata in the United States. From the top, there is a view south to the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson, northwest to Tabletop Mountain near Casa Grande, north to the many mountain ranges surrounding Phoenix, and west to where the north-running Santa Cruz River runs underground supporting farms in a desert valley.
Picacho is a Spanish word meaning big peak, and there are many features with the word in its name across the U.S. Southwest. There is another Picacho Peak near Seligman, Arizona, one outside Las Cruces, New Mexico, and one in the Santa Fe, New Mexico area. The mining settlement of Picacho, California (now a ghost town) was named after another picacho.
The Hunter Trail is a hiking path to the top of the peak. It is not a technical climb, but includes an interval where steel cables have been installed to aid ascending hikers. The park recommends that hikers wear hiking boots and carry two liters of water per person. Gloves are commonly used to help grip the cables.
Pechacho or Picacho Station a stop on the Butterfield Overland Mail existed here until the 1870s. The park is near the site of the Battle of Picacho Peak, one of several American Civil War era engagements to occur in Arizona Territory. A Union cavalry patrol from California skirmished with Confederate scouts from Texas, and three men were killed. This marks the second westernmost battle of the American Civil War. Every year during early March, there are reenactments of the battle and other demonstrations of Civil War military history.
Appearances in fiction
Picacho Peak features prominently in the novel The Host by Stephenie Meyer, serving as a guide to the main character in the first act of the story. Much of the action of the novel takes place in or near the state park.