January somehow turned in to a month of far too much paid campground camping. I think back in November, when I made the reservations, I was worried about us needing to have plans and having reservations is the best way to know you’ve got a spot waiting for you. Problem is, the cost adds up and reservations kill the ability to be spontaneous. But it’s all a learning curve. Depending on how you do it, you can either go broke and exhaust yourself living on the road or you can thrive and live on the cheap. I feel like it’s taken some time but we’re finally starting to thrive.
When we arrived at Picacho Peak State Park outside of Tucson, I think Mark and I were both wondering why we decided to stay there for a week. We thought we may want to explore Tucson until we remembered how much we dislike cities and traffic and strip malls. Nothing against Tucson, it was just bigger than we’d expected. The park itself was nothing remarkable but it was quiet and clean and our stay turned out to be more enjoyable than we’d expected. What turned out to make this park entirely worth the stay was the hike to the summit of Picacho Peak. For a couple of Coloradans who are used to hiking trails with elevation gain and exposure, this adrenaline-pumping hike was an unexpected gem in the middle of the Arizona desert.
In typical Arizona fashion, the weather was perfect and all-in-all we had a great week!
The unassuming start to the top of Picacho Peak:
I think my favorite thing about this area of the state are the saguaros. I had no idea until now that they are native to the Sonoran desert and can only be found in Southern Arizona, a very small part of California and the Mexican state of Sonora.
This hike included several sections of cables and metal posts to hold on to where there wasn’t much else to keep you from falling. These were originally put in to place by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1932 to service a light beacon at the top of the peak. The cables weren’t always necessary, but when they were, I was crossing my fingers that they still worked after all those years.
In the photo below, you can see the campground on the valley floor just to the right of the mountain top.
Usually getting down is the easy part. That wasn’t the case on this hike. Getting down was just as tricky as getting up.
If you like challenging hikes that get your adrenaline pumping and end with great views, I highly recommend checking out Picacho Peak! But, if you have a fear of heights, this one is definitely not for you.
That’s all for our stay outside Tucson! Stay tuned for our next stop…