Picacho Peak, AZ: Feeding Ostriches and Risking Death

Ahhh, spring break!! The annual celebration of fresh air, shirked responsibilities, and family bonding.  The perfect time to leave our cares behind and spend some time with our busy teens — namely, son Max and his girlfriend Lili.

We extolled all of the RV’s luxurious virtues, only to get the reply, “But we want to camp in a tent.” Whaaat?  No queen mattress?  No memory-foam topper?  No forced-air heating to ward off cold desert nights?  NOPE.  A tent it had to be. (They were happy to avail themselves of the Lucky Charm’s indoor plumbing and WiFi, however.  Roughing it has its limits, after all.)

Tent in the background!  Not too close, not too far ….

We had visited Picacho Peak State Park before, and were happy to return for its huge, spread-out-from-your-neighbors campsites.  Besides the usual camping activities (sunset strolls, gooey s’mores, arguing over which Die Hard movie was the best) we had two goals:  “Feed Ostriches” and “Risk Death.” Feeding ostriches, because one of our favorite Arizona attractions, the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch, is right down the street.

Risking death, because Philip wanted to try hiking the treacherous Hunter Trail to the top of Picacho Peak, a 1,780-foot gain in 1.5 measly miles (one way).  Steeeep!  But more on that later.

First order of business at Rooster Cogburn’s is a ride in the mega-monster truck.  Wheeeeee-hahhhh!

Lots of laughs and screams all around.  We learned a TON about the desert and about ostriches.

But then on to feeding the animals.  Lots of animals.  Hungry animals. Animals with poor oral hygiene.  Animals everywhere!

We particularly enjoyed “Ostrich Fishing,” attaching a piece of fruit to a pole and feeding them from the relative safety of a high platform.  The ostrich seems to be one angry, aggressive animal!

But by far, our favorite activity was the lorakeet exhibit!

 Back at camp, we found the desert awash in gorgeous spring beauty!

Picacho Peak is perhaps most famous for two things:  being the westernmost site of any Civil War skirmish (and the only one in Arizona) — the Battle of Picacho Pass in 1862.  Also, for being the location of the busiest (and thus, most woefully understaffed) Dairy Queen between Phoenix and Tucson.  

The climb up Picacho Peak coils around sheer cliffs and rocky slopes, with steel cables embedded in the volcanic rock to assist you in your scramble to the 3,374-foot panoramic summit.

The trail was built in 1932 to service a light beacon on the summit (no longer there).

Only halfway up, we spotted our RV campground down lowwww (the white specks)!

Almost there …….

Tah-dah!!!  The tippity tip top!  Whoo Hoo!

As our quick spring break adventure drew to a close, we were grateful for this fun location just 80 quick miles from Phoenix, and for teens who are still willing to spend a little time with us!  Next up for the Lucky Charm, a new destination in April:  Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, AZ!

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