We visited Picacho Peak State Park 

On Saturday, April 29th with our friends Dawna & Scott.

Visitors traveling along I-10 between Tucson & Casa Grande in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. The state park has 3,747 acres for hiking, rock climbing, spring wildflowers, and camping. The peaks are visible from downtown Tucson, a distance of 45 miles. The summit rises to 3,374 feet above sea level.

Once inside the park we saw some Saguaro cactus. I think they are really neat and their flowers are Arizona’s state flower. The Saguaros are only found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. The saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) are large, tree-like columnar cacti that develop branches (or arms) as they age. These arms generally bend upward and can number over 25. Saguaros are covered with protective spines, white flowers in the late spring, and red fruit in summer. They are very slow growing, a10 year old plant might only be 1.5 inches tall. Saguaro can grow to be between 40-60 feet tall. When the rain is plentiful and the saguaro is fully hydrated it can weigh between 3200-4800 pounds.

Saguaro flowers are usually found near the tops of the stems and arms of the cactus. They will start to bloom May – July.  They are white in color about 3 inches (8cm) in diameter. They emit a strong smell, sort of like melons. During the night the flowers are pollinated by the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat. During the daytime the flowers are pollinated by bees and birds such as the white-winged dove.

After the flowers have been pollinated they mature into bright red fruit. When the fruit ripens it split open showing juicy red pulp. Each fruit can contain up to 2000 small black seeds. The fruit is a source of food for many desert animals.

Saguaro flowers bloom for less than 24 hours. They open at night and remain open through the next day. They only have that very short time to attract an animal to be pollinated.

The pole that is used to get the fruit down from the cactus knocking it to the ground.

I would like to try the fruit one of these days cause it has Vitamin C, helps rehydrate the body, Cure Rheumatism and is rich in fiber. You can eat the fresh fruit or turn it into juice, make a reserve, jam or syrup from it, the seeds can be dried and pulverized to use as flour or make porridge, you can also use it to make wine and use the seeds for oil. The saguaro plant can also be used for splints, furniture and fences. I have to apologize for my lengthy description of saguaros but now you know more than you ever wanted to about them. 😊

Visitor Center

We learned that the rocks of Picacho Peak have seen the passing of prehistoric humans, Spanish explorers, gold miners on their way West, Mormon soldiers, and, most notably, Civil War combatants. Once Dave knew that there there was a Civil War battle fought here he was excited to learn about it, and now I’m letting Dave write about it. . .

So, little did I know there was a civil war battle in Arizona, really a small skirmish, that lasted about two hours. Although if you were killed or wounded in this battle, it was the biggest battle of your life.

In Early 1862, confederate Texans crossed into Arizona, and came as far as Tucson, which became sort of a supply area and staging for troops. After the union found out about this they sent U. S. California cavalry troops, east to see what was up. In early April of 1862 the confederate troops had an outpost at Picacho pass set up. Picacho pass was a well known landmark at this time seen from a long way off to guide people in there travels. Union forces approached on April 15 and decided to attack. They split up and one force followed the dirt road, while the other force went around the small mountain range. When the union troopers surprised the confederate troops they were willing to surrender, however, someone, deliberately of by mistake fired a shot, and the skirmish was on. It lasted a few hours, with several killed and a good many wounded on both sides. The union withdrew and left the confederates in charge. However the next day thinking they were going to be attacked by a larger force, the confederates with drew all the way back to Tucson. It was not until six weeks later did the union advance on Tucson, but by that time the confederates had withdrawn back into Texas.

This little battle was the westernmost engagement of the entire civil war. Also after the war a few men from both sides came back to settle in the area, two of them settled about forty miles northwest of Picacho pass, and named there little town Phoenix.

Scott and Dawna were at Picacho Peak before and hiked on some of the trails. Dave & I decided we would come back another time and hike the trails. The park has 5 trails from easy to difficult.

We had lunch with Dawna and Scott at the park and then we headed to their site in Fiesta Grande RV Park Resort.

Later in the day, We had some of Dawna’s delicious chicken paprikash.

We had a good time at Picacho Peak and visiting with our friends.

2 thoughts on “We visited Picacho Peak State Park 

  1. What a pretty cactus. Thank you for the info….very informative. Always nice when Dave gets to expand and share his Civil War knowledge with us.

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