Picacho Peak State Park, Picacho
By Kelly Vaughn
As the site of the only Civil War battle in Arizona, Picacho Peak is full of history, but it’s also home to one heck of a campground. Each site is electric and RV-friendly, and tent camping is also popular, thanks to shady ramadas, spacious, modern facilities, and gorgeous views of the saguaro-flanked peak. In spring, you’ll see stellar sprinklings of wildflowers.
Hiking, picnicking and geocaching are among popular activities. For the little ones, there’s a playground. And a visitors center is stocked with books, maps, caps, T-shirts and snacks, and volunteers eager to help.
Seasonally, the park offers guided nature walks and other ranger-led events. But the most-talked-about affair every March is “Civil War in the Southwest,” a reenactment of Arizona’s Civil War battle. More than 200 re-enactors descend on the park, wearing authentic Civil War garb and equipped with genuine 1860s camping gear. Don’t worry, though. You won’t be turned away at the gate if you pack your REI goods.
Photo: The RV-friendly Picacho Peak Campground is also a great place to see spring wildflowers. | Keith Whitney
Elevation: 2,000 feet
Directions: Picacho Peak Campground is off Exit 219 on Interstate 10, in Picacho Peak State Park.
Information: Picacho Peak State Park, 520-466-3138 or www.azstateparks.com/parks/pipe
Season: Mid-September through mid-May
Fee: $25 per night, plus a $7 park entrance fee
Reservations: Yes, 520-586-2283
Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Pets, Water, RVs