Civil War in the Southwest

Picacho Peak State Park

March 18-19, 2017

Civil War in the Southwest event at Picacho Peak State Park

About the reenactment

Each year thousands of spectators come to Picacho Peak State Park to watch re-enactments of an Arizona Civil War skirmish and the New Mexico battles of Glorieta and Val Verde.

Visitors travel from around the country to experience three reenactments of historic battles complete with lifestyles of the soldiers in the southwest during the 1860s. More than 200 re-enactors come from many states and will camp at the park with their authentic Civil War camping gear. Food and beverage concessions are also available, including the popular Kettle Corn vendor.

Civil War battles across America were well documented and history teachers carefully covered each battle across the East Coast, but few ever thought about what was happening in the West during this time. A battle of the American Civil War was a skirmish fought near a rocky spire called Picacho Peak located between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. The new highway follows the old wagon route that passed Picacho in 1862.

History of the battles

In 1860 the New Mexico Territory, which consisted of the lands that would become the states of Arizona and New Mexico, was sparsely populated. It ranked 34th in population out of 43 states and territories with only 83,009 inhabitants. It was 37th in black populations, with just 8 whom were all free. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, the U.S. Government recalled the majority of its troops from the West to build the Union army for the fighting in the east. Henry Hopkins Sibley joined the Confederacy and convinced Jefferson Davis that he would raise an army in Texas and invade New Mexico territories. He proposed that mineral resources would fill the coffers of the Confederacy and fund their massive war effort.

Register to be a reenactor

Do you want to travel back in time? Do you long for the sounds of the cannons? Or maybe show off the authenticity of your recreations? Then register to be a reenactor for "Civil War in the Southwest!"

Download the Registration and Rules for "Civil War in the Southwest."

Many of our reenactors make the most of their experience by setting up an authentic Civil War-era tent encampment in the park's campgrounds. Reserve your campsite by clicking on the link below.

Campground Reservations

Learn more about tent camping in Picacho Peak State Park.

Plan your visit

"Civil War in the Southwest" is one of our biggest events, so we open our second entrance just for our Civil War visitors! We'll also have signage along the road to make parking easier to find.

To get to Civil War parking:

  • Take I-10 to Exit 219
  • Go south on Picacho Peak Rd
  • Take E Peak Ln (the frontage road) north to the event gate.
  • The parking lot opens at 9:30am and closes at 3:00pm. No further entry to the event will be allowed after 3:00pm. 
  • Please note, the main entrance will be reserved for regular park visitors only.

Entry fees:

  • Event entrance fee is $10 per vehicle for up to 4 people. Each additional person is charged $3.
  • Entrance for pedestrians and bicycles is $3 per person.
  • There is no charge for children age 13 and under.

"Hay wagon" style transportation is available from the parking lot to the event area free of charge. ADA accessible transportation will also be provided free of charge and consist of 6-passenger golf carts. There is an accessible 0.3-mile footpath that leads from the parking to the event area that can be navigated with strollers and wheelchairs.

Consider bringing a folding chair to sit and watch the battles. Shade canopies are permitted, but please be considerate and do not block the view of other spectators.

Food and drink concessions are available throughout the event weekend, but coolers are permitted. Seating is provided in the food vendor area.

Be "Sun Smart!" Temperatures in the Sonoran Desert in March can climb to 90 degrees and higher. So bring enough water for yourself and your group, high SPF sunblock, covering for your head and perhaps shoulders, and sensible footwear.

If you bring children, please note:

  • The ground in the event area is uneven and rocky, but strollers and wagons can be navigated throughout the event area.
  • Young children may become frightened by the loud noise from the guns or cannons, so consider bringing hearing protection. Hearing protection will NOT be distributed at the event or in the park.

Wheelchair users please note the event grounds are uneven and rocky so you may need assistance to get around.

Please do not bring pets! "Civil War in the Southwest" reenactors fire cannons that can startle and frighten pets, causing them to run away. Wildlife in the area may prove dangerous to domestic animals.

Download the schedule of events

Download the Visitor's Guide, including a map of the camps, the civilian area, concessions, schedule of events, and parking

Download a copy of our event flyer.

If you'd like to see what other great outdoor recreational activities Picacho Peak has to offer, visit our homepage to learn more.