Each year at PICACHO PEAK STATE PARK the Re-Enactment of 3 battles from the Civil War are performed along the hillside in the park. The performances continue from 10 am until 4pm both Saturday and Sunday. Check out the schedule at AZstateparks.com/parks/pipe for future dates. The Battle of Picacho Peak was the westernmost battle in the Civil War. Exit 219 from either East or West on Interstate 10 is the off ramp to the State Park and nearby historical site.
On April 15, 1862, this battle of the American Civil War was fought on the sides of Picacho Peak, a rocky volcanic spire situated 50 miles northwest of Tucson. Today, the old wagon route which passed by Picacho in 1862 is roughly traced by U.S. Highway 10, which connects the modern metropolises of Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. Only when the highway runs by Picacho is the open desert view blocked by a series of sheer ridges towering to the west. In 1862, this area was virtually deserted due to its natural desolation, and the fact that all U.S. Army troops had departed the previous year, leaving the local settlers and Indians to do as they wished.
Anyone who has driven between Tucson and Phoenix will know about Picacho Peak. It is a major landmark in that part of the Sonoran Desert and can be seen from Casa Grande to Northern Tucson. The peak itself is the eroded remnant of a volcanic plug. The peak towers above Interstate Highway 10. At the peak there is an off-ramp which leads to commercial businesses at the base of the mountain. The same ramp passes the historic site entrance, where there is a small booth staffed by park rangers.
The cost to attend this event is $10.00 per car, up to 4 persons. A modest charge for a full day of entertainment as well as a glimpse back into history. The volunteers are all dressed in period clothes and even when they are not performing the battles, they continue to stay in character throughout the day. Women cooking over an open fire, men cleaning their weapons, receiving training, marching etc. It is something worth seeing if you are in this area the third weekend in March. Shuttles will take you from the parking lot to the camps. Food vendors are available for hot dogs or sodas etc, but many attendees brought their own snacks and chairs and found an elevated spot beneath the mountain to hang out for the day. Many tents are scattered throughout the camp areas depicting what life might have been like in camps during those unsettled times. During the afternoon on both Saturday and Sunday there will be demonstrations of the artillery and the Battles of Valverde, Glorietta and Picacho Pass.
At times the whole area is covered with smoke from the canons and muskets, but it soon dissipates.
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