Friday, December 13, 2013

Picacho Peak State Park, AZ

I only had a one night stay at Picacho Peak State Park, but if the opportunity arises, I would come back here to hike the longer trails. This was my campsite with a mountain of volcanic rock behind me.
 From the other side, you can see Picacho Peak in the background, a landmark that can be seen for miles. One of the first written records was in the 1700s when the Anza Expedition passed through the area.
In the afternoon of our arrival, Thistle and I took advantage of several shorter trails. This one leads to a small cave, once used by javalinas for shelter.
 One of the prominent features of this park are the giant Saguaro Cactuses. Woodpeckers make these holes.
 View from the trail looking toward the campground.
 This is an American Kestrel perched on a Saguaro.
 Here's the cave.
 View from there, looking east.
 Several trails lead from the Visitor's Center.
 We started with the short nature trail featuring desert plants.
 View from the nature trail.
The nature trail intersects another, longer trail that leads to an overlook in the V between the mountains. We decided to take it.
 Along the trail we met this Black Throated Sparrow.
 This trail is rated as moderate...between easy and difficult. 
 My attempt at a "selfie" with the view.
 Looking at the peak between volcanic boulders.
 Gradually going up.
 Large Saguaro with a nesting hole. Wrong time of year for an active nest.
 Woodpeckers and Flickers make these holes for nesting sites.
Interesting that the Saguaros grow on the rocky mountainside and on the peak.
 The bear went over the see what he could see.
 Moon rising.
 And all that he could see....was the other side of the mountain.
 Turning around...
 Another view from the trail. This was my first time seeing the Saguaros, so this post is heavily laden with them.
 A little about the geology...
 Out there is where the Spanish expedition camped on their way through in the 1700s.
 Moon rise over Picacho Peak.
 Evening shadows...raven song.
 Sunset from my campsite.
 Sonoran Desert at sunset.
 But not to be outdone, sunrise was spectacular too.
 Dawn's early light.
 Baby cactus?
 Sun rising at the viewpoint I hiked to yesterday.
 I think this is a Cactus Wren. They like the Cholla Cactus.
 I'm calling him a Gilded Flicker, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
 Perched on a Saguaro, facing the morning sun.
One more walk with Thistle, then we'll pack up and head to Phoenix for the weekend.


  1. Looks like some mighty quiet vistas for you and Thistle to conquer.

  2. Great photos Liz. The Flicker looks like a Gilded, but the feathers that I thought looked yellowish - the Gilded color - might just be highlighted by the sun. The crown really looks brownish like the Gilded. The other type would be Red-shafted, The Red has a 'brown crown' but the Gilded has all brown crown and brighter cinnamon forehead. Aaahhh!!!! Haven't birded out there since 2010 but it looks the same. South of there are the great ground birds. Save them for another time. Great time had by all!! I enjoyed it and didn't even get tired.

  3. Forgot to mention the barrel cactus is casually called 'fish hook cactus'. The thorns were/are used as fish hooks.

    Also, the Saguaro cactus will house the 'desert' Purple Martins during the summer nesting. Also the Elf Owl lives/nests in them but at higher elevation. Of course, the Cactus Wren hangs out there but normally does not nest in the hole.