I first heard of Patagonia Lake State Park as I sat In an REI camping basics class a couple years ago. I was immediately intrigued and have been waiting for the right opportunity to check it out. That right opportunity came about this last weekend. The park was all I imagined and more, and I am already planning a return trip! Here are my five reasons Patagonia Lake should also be on your list of travel plans.
1. The Campground!
Patagonia Lake State Park, was established in 1975. The campground overlooks a 265 acre man-made lake filled with crappie, bass, bluegill, and catfish. The Park offers a beach, picnic area with ramadas, tables and grills. There is a Lake Side Market, Marina, & Visitor Center.
There are 105 developed campsites with a picnic table, fire ring, and parking for two vehicles. Select sites offer ramadas. Sites have 20/30 & 50 amp hookups.
There are 12 boat in sites with a picnic table & fire ring accessible by boat only. One site is an actual island, you can reserve the whole island all to yourself!!!
If roughing it is not your thing. The park also offers camping cabins. The cabins offer amazing views of the lake with raised front porches. The cabins are two rooms with one queen bed and two sets of bunk beds, sleeping six. Cabins are equipped with heat and a/c, a microwave, and mini fridge. You are required to bring your own linens. Camping cabins do not have running water, but are nearby to the restrooms.
There are several restrooms through out the park that are very clean and nice. The restrooms also offer heated showers.
The lake is popular among anglers. Fisherman often reel in crappie, bass, bluegill, and catfish. The Lake Marina has tackle, bait, fishing license, and boat rentals available.
There are two boat ramps that are concrete. Both motorized and non-motorized vessels are allowed on the lake. There are some restrictions on motorized boats that you can find on their website. The marina offers boat rentals of canoes, paddle boats, rowboats, and Pontoon boats for your enjoyment. You can contact the Marina at 520-287-2804 for prices and details.
3. Family Friendly
Inside the park there is a visitor center with lots of cool information to browse. There is a kid center with coloring and age appropriate books. The rangers and volunteers are super friendly and excited to share their wealth of information about the park and surrounding areas. My kids each participated in the junior ranger program and earned their Patagonia Lake Junior Ranger Badges. Oh, and Don't forget to ask for the, "I Love To Go Boating" coloring book while you are visiting. There is a lot of exploring kids can do around the park (make sure to walk over the pedestrian foot bridge) for some pretty cool photo opportunities!
Inside the visitor center you can also pick up some area brochures and maps. They also have a small gift shop if you would like some souvenirs. My kids each picked out their own hope stones.
4. Bird Watching
The Natural area offers exceptional birding opportunities and is a popular area for bird watchers and birding photography alike. There are over 315 resident and migratory bird species that inhibit the Sonoita Creek and Patagonia Lake area. The Park is located at an elevation between 3800' and 4200' with most of the vegetation of the Upper Sonoran desert life zone characterized by semi-desert grasslands. The beautiful Sonoita Creek flows along the edge of the park for 2.5 miles, supporting a riparian habitat along it's length. Keep your eye out for the greatest variety and abundance of birds in this area. Some birds you may see are the Canyon Towhee, Inca Dove, Vermilion Flycatcher, Elegant Trogan, Black Vulture, and several different species of hummingbirds.
5. Exploring and Area Attractions
There are many trails to explore if you decide to set out hiking for the day. My family and I went on The Sonoita Creek Trail on the far East side of the campground. This trail is an easy trail that is a little over a mile if you stay on the loop. We explored a little further by following the creek and ended up walking about 4 miles. Right up the road before entering the State Park is The Sonoita Creek State Natural area. This area was established in 1994 with it's mission to preserve this fragile riparian area and it's surrounding environment. Low impact recreation such as hiking one of it's many trails and bird watching co-exist with education and scientific research at this Sonoita creek state natural area. The Nature area includes hiking trails, horse trails, back-country camping, and trail head parking along with a visitor center.
Feel like getting cleaned up and taking a small field trip for the day? Nearby Patagonia is a small gold mining town you can explore.
How about some wine tasting? About a half hour down the road is the town of Sonoita where there are many wineries.
So what are you waiting for? Let's go adventuring!!