An hour-ish outside of the Valley, on your way to Tucson, is Picacho Peak State Park. It’s equal parts majestic mountain, spring wildflowers, and family friendly hiking.
Read on for tips on how to enjoy this beautiful, and often over-looked, state park.
When to Go
Picacho Peak is about an hour from the Valley and about 30 minutes from Tucson. It’s hot in the summer, there’s no two ways about it.
The best time to enjoy this beautiful spot is either fall or spring.
It’s not super crowded with people so anytime of the day you arrive should be easy access.
What to Do
There are five main trails – two easy, two moderate, and one difficult.
There is also a small playground with a swing-set and climbing structure that looks like an overgrown spider. I’m not going to lie, friends, it’s janky. But if your kids need such things to get the wiggles out, there it is.
Don’t sleep on the Junior Ranger activity sheet! Just download and print before you go!
Overnight campground reservations are also available if you want to make a bigger trip out of it.
What Not to Forget
There is very little to zero shade so keeping yourself and your littles sun-protected is a MUST any time of year.
Likewise, water is an absolute necessity – bring it from home because there aren’t a lot of options for grabbing it on the way once you are past Casa Grande on the I-10.
There is an entrance fee to Picacho, like all the other state parks.
It’s not cost prohibitive (currently $7 per vehicle of up to four people), but if you find yourself going to state parks more than once or twice a year, a State Parks Annual Pass is a worthwhile investment.
There are bathrooms in designated areas. If your kids have peanut bladders, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a travel potty and definitely be prepared to do diaper changes in your car!
What to Pair it With
Picacho Park is at the same exit on the I-10 as Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. This somewhat off-the-wall petting zoo is a serious family favorite. It’s budget friendly and a solid two-plus hours of entertainment.
Lunch in Marana or Tucson is definitely accessible after a morning hike. Make sure you skip McDonalds or Chick-Fil-A and find a fun local joint (I’ll allow Eegee’s since we have limited East Valley locations and truly, after a hike, Eegee’s sounds amazing).
If you’re making this a full day experience, spend the morning at Picacho Peak then hit the Pima Air and Space Museum in the afternoon!
Lots of cool indoor and outdoor airplane exhibits for the littlest and the biggest kids in your group. Bonus points if you go and take a picture with the 1960s American Airlines Flight Attendant mannequin and tag me in it (@lindsayo61318) – that’s my mom’s uniform from her flying days!
Picacho Peak is an outdoor adventure that pairs easily with lots of local fun. Check it out and let me know what you liked best!