Picacho Peak is a peaceful getaway and a prime example of classic desert beauty. If you grew up watching Looney Tunes and can’t picture a desert scene without saguaro cacti, Picacho won’t disappoint. It is a veritable saguaro garden. You will be able to thoroughly test your desert flora knowledge with numerous other specimens as well, such as cholla, prickly pear, sage, little leaf palo verde, barrel cacti, and many more…that I can’t remember the name of. (But weren’t you just a little bit impressed that I dug that much out of the deep dark recesses of my ol’ noggin?)
We spent our time in Picacho doing some serious relaxing, super serious hiking, and celebrating two birthdays–Elijah (12/28) and Hannah (1/1). checking out the Christmas decor on the surrounding trailers…and realizing we need to turn it up a notch next year! We also used our week for It was a refreshing break in God’s country.
Here’s how it ranks in the official Travel Bags Grading Chart:
- Hook-ups: A
- Sites: A+
- Atmosphere: A+
- Park: A+
- Bathrooms: A
- Showers: B
- Laundry: N/A
- Trails: A+
- Price: A-
Let’s expand on that report card a bit:
Partial–electric only, well-maintained. This is fine, since bathrooms are close and clean with trails from the sites, and the dump station is nearby and included in the site fees.
Amenities include a fire ring, picnic table, room for a tent and a trailer, plenty of space, and a ramada (in some). All the amenities are super clean, so much so that the camp hosts bid us farewell and pulled in right after we left to re-rake our spot! The sites are level and super roomy with plenty of distance between you and your neighbors.
Picacho is a remarkably peaceful place to stay. We were there over New Year’s Eve when the place filled up, and we didn’t hear a hoot between 11:59 p.m. and 12:01 a.m. During the day there were many people walking dogs, or otherwise strolling about, but it was never crowded, there was only a wait for the shower one day, and there was only the occasional chatter and a few dogs barking here and there on the weekend.
Amenities include a visitor center and, best of all, hiking! You’re not going to find swimming pools and mini-golf here, because it’s all about nature…and near-death experiences. There is an Arizona State Junior Rangers Program to make the excursions a bit more educational. You can also try your hand (or your GPS) at geocaching.
The bathrooms are sparkling clean–that’s a pretty big deal. They are always well-stocked. They are closed for two hours a day for cleaning (although it rarely took two hours), and if you’ve had eight babies bouncing on your bladder or you’re only five, two hours can be a long time. Still, that’s what your own tanks are for, right?
The bathroom building also has two very clean sinks for washing dishes outdoors. The water isn’t hot, so you have to trek it from inside the bathroom on the other side of the building. Plus the light is on a motion sensor, so you have to do the Charleston while washing the dishes or you end up in the dark. It’s good exercise.
The showers are some of the cleanest we’ve seen also. The nozzles, however, stink, unless you use the handicapped shower, which is stellar. Still, the hot water ran out during a run of showers–I know, first world problems, but still, we don’t get first-world-style showers very often, and we at least want them to be warm. Also, since the place isn’t heated, you might freeze your fanny off if you don’t time it properly. A little fanny-freezing now and then is exhilarating, anyway.
There is a trail for everyone in the family, from children to granny. Our kids hike more than your average family, but we are by no means experts-they are phenomenal troupers, though. Even the short kids’ hikes were good at Picacho, not boring. Also not boring was the advanced hike that requires both nerves and cables of steel to hoist yourself up the cliff. Steve and the Double Digits took that route while Christy and the Littles stayed home and ate popcorn and chocolate and called it lunch.
Leave the stroller home.
Electric hook-ups are currently $30 per night, for a maximum of 12 people, with an extra fee for an extra vehicle if it is not attached (towed or towing) to your “residence.” This is about as cheap as it gets in Arizona during snowbird season, where full-hook-ups can run well over $50. Also, the fact that Picacho Peack State Park doesn’t charge an extra fee per head makes it cheaper than other places that begin at a lower initial price and jack it up a bit per person. You may recall that we have quite a few heads.
This park was worth every penny, and we will definitely be back if our schedule allows it. It was a highlight of our time in Arizona and a great way to spend some down time.
To learn more about Picacho Peak and to book a site, click here. Tell them we sent you–they’ll have no idea who we are, but it’ll make for good conversation.
And this pic is for you, Mom: