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Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunsets and A Summit

Rick Morgan

We first learned about Picacho Peak State Park after reading Steve and Mona Liza’s The Lowe’s RV Adventures blog post. So, after leaving Casino Arizona we headed for a week stay in the Park. After JoAnne’s trip to St. Louis and our casino camping we were ready to just “hang out” which is pretty much what we did.

Traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona you can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. The unique shape has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. In the 1700s the Anza Expedition passed through the area and made mention of the peak. (In the category of DUH – we never took a picture of the peak – but there are lots of good pictures on the park website and on the Lowes blog.)

We have been in the desert for over a month now and other than a great sunset over the Salton Sea we have not seen any truly spectacular sunsets until now. Almost every night we were rewarded with a dazzling display of color. More photos here.

Vista on early section of the hike

Before we left the park, I had also wanted to hike to the summit. So, last Thursday JoAnne dropped me off at Sunset Vista trailhead. The first couple of miles of this trail make for an easy and very enjoyable hike with some wonderful panoramic views. But that changes as soon as you reach the first set of cables. At this point the hike turns into more of “climb” and transitions from easy to more difficult and where most of the 15,000 feet in elevation gain happens. The views at the top are ample reward for the effort.

cable on an "exposed" section of the hike
One of the cable sections on the hike
Rick at the summit
 For my return, I decide to take the Hunter trail down. It is a shorter trail but steeper and I would say more difficult. I was happy I chose to hike the summit in the order I did. Photos from my hike are here.

From Picacho we headed to Gilbert Ray Campground and wonderful county park about 18 miles west of Tucson and close to Saguaro National Park.