In the southeastern Arizona desert lies 2,658 acres of land dedicated to nature and outdoor activities. With a scenic man-made lake, free-flowing creek, and plenty of wildlife to see, Patagonia Lake State Park will easily stir up any visitor's love for outdoor recreation. The park was established in 1975 and is located about an hour south of Tucson, Arizona. Its rugged desert beauty and lakeside campground make it a hidden sanctuary for RV vacationers. With desert vegetation covering much of the area, visitors have easy access to the lake on all sides as well as the 2.5 miles of Sonoita Creek flowing along the park's northern edge.
At Patagonia Lake State Park, guests can enjoy many activities, including birding, hiking, or water sports. Sonoita Creek is a prime birding spot in Arizona and is famous for the many species of migratory birds that pass through the area. Guests can obtain maps and birding guides from the Visitor Center as well as familiarize themselves with the park’s attractions, trails, and swimming rules. They can also learn all about the many conservation efforts that are taking place to protect and preserve the native Fremont Cottonwood trees.
Conveniently located between Nogales and Patagonia, guests can easily access the park off of State Route 82. After leaving the highway, visitors will follow local roads for a few miles to the park’s entrance. The road leading to the park passes through a desert landscape full of rolling hills that are covered with native desert vegetation. Drive slowly and enjoy the scenic drive. Inside of the park, roads are wide and paved making it easy for large trailers to navigate to the campground. The few trails available are well-maintained too.
There are many parking spaces south of the lake. Overnight guests can park their trailers in the campground, and cabin guests can park at the cabin area parking lot.
The Main Campground at Patagonia Lake State Park is so large that that park staff has split the area in half, referring to one side as the East campsites and the other as the West campsites. This helps visitors have a better idea of where their site is located when they arrive and also while making reservations. The park's pet-friendly campground offers a total of 105 campsites for RVs, trailers, and tents. The majority of sites are quite large and have enough space to accommodate two vehicles. Be aware that an extra nightly fee is charged for second vehicles.
Overlooking the lake, all but two of the sites are equipped with electrical hookups. There are no sewer or water hookups in the campground. Each site includes a picnic table, fire ring, grill, and a ramada to provide the campsites with shade. Amenities offered within the park include drinking water, flush toilets, hot showers, and an RV dump station. Firewood can be purchased within the park.
In addition to the campgrounds, the park offers a small area with seven lakeside cabins that are available by reservation only. These cabins are located near the east side of the campground, and all have a two-bedroom floor plan and allow a maximum of six people. Each cabin comes with a queen bed in the first bedroom and bunk beds in the second. Be aware that guests must bring their own linens.
Additionally, all cabins include basic furnishings as well as basic kitchen appliances such as a microwave and mini-fridge. The cabins are equipped with electricity as well as heating and air conditioning and restrooms with showers are just a short walk away. Covered porches provide comfortable spots where campers can take in the lake views and enjoy the fresh air. Each cabin also includes a picnic table, fire ring, and grill. All cabins are ADA-accessible.
In addition to the sites at the main campground, the park offers 12 campsites that can only be accessed by boat. These sites are spread out on all sides of Patagonia Lake and are positioned on the lake's shores so that campers can enjoy the stunning lake views. These sites are designed for primitive camping, so campers will need to make sure that they boat-in all of their supplies with them. Each campsite includes a picnic table and a fire ring. A few of the campsites also include portable restrooms.
Seasoned as well as novice hikers will be mesmerized by the park’s beauty. With over 25 miles of trails winding through the park and the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, visitors can venture as deep into the Arizona wilderness as they please. A hike across the carved pedestrian bridge gives awesome views of the lake while the half-mile Sonoita Creek Trail leads visitors along the creek, offering peaceful areas to meditate and see some of the native Arizona wildlife.
At Boulder Beach, park visitors will find a roped-off swimming area that provides a great escape from the sun during summer. It's recommended that only skilled swimmers should use this swimming area as the waters can sometimes be a bit rough depending on weather, and there are no lifeguards on duty. The beach area has shaded ramadas where visitors can relax as well as chairs on the shore so that they can soak in some sun if they want. Be aware that swimmers are not permitted in boat launch areas.
Boating, water skiing, kayaking, and canoeing are just a few of the popular water activities that guests enjoy on Patagonia Lake. There are two boat ramps at Patagonia Lake State Park that are made of cement. Guests are free to use motorized and non-motorized boats on the lake, but be aware that the east side of the lake is designated a no wake zone. Boat rentals are available at the Marina for any guests who are unable to bring their own.
The 265-acre Patagonia Lake is full of fish for eager anglers. Largemouth bass, crappie, and sunfish are native to the lake, and rainbow trout are stocked regularly. For anglers who want a more secluded place to fish, Sonoita Creek has crayfish, suckers, and speckled dace. Boat fishing and shoreline fishing are permitted within the park. Be aware that anglers above ten years of age are required to have a valid Arizona fishing license. Fishing licenses can be purchased at the park’s marina or online. The marina also sells bait and offers boat rentals.
For avid birders, Sonoita Creek boasts of over 300 species of birds ranging from native birds like the hummingbird, vulture, and owl to a variety of migratory bird species that frequent the area during peak migration seasons. The creek is also home to several rare bird species including canyon towhee, vermillion flycatcher, and green kingfisher. Guests can obtain birding guides from the Visitor Center and also participate in guided bird walks which take place on select days of the week.
Guests can park their rig at Patagonia Lake and enjoy any of the park's designated day-use areas. Here, park visitors can chat with friends and take in scenic lake views as they enjoy a home-cooked meal. The park's picnic area has a mix of shaded and open sites equipped with tables and grills. Extra picnic tables can be found near the beach. Shaded ramadas are also available and can be reserved in advance. Each ramada can accommodate a maximum of 60 people.