Patagonia Lake State Park, a birder’s bonanza in southeastern Arizona
After visiting with friends in Rio Rico, Az., we traveled south to Nogales, and then took Hwy 82 northeast to Patagonia Lake State Park. (Strongly suggest securing reservations if you planning on stopping on weekends in this immensely popular park.)
I went online a couple of days ahead of our arrival and paid the extra $5 for online reservation because of President’s Day weekend. Am I glad I did. The campground was full by the time we arrived at 11 a.m. Camping fee is $25-28 for a site with electricity and water. (BTW, our site, #40, was a delight within an easy walk of the lake and on the outer edge of one parking circle.) There are some dry camping sites ($17) and about a dozen boat-in campsites ($17-$20) around the edge of the 265-acre man-made lake. Anglers are said to catch crappie, bass, bluegill and catfish. Trout is stocked every three weeks between October and March.
A leisurely walk through the campground revealed an almost equal number of families camping with young children and more mature visitors with broad-brimmed straw hats and binoculars handing around their necks. The park has been designated as an “Important Birding Area” by the Audubon Society.
Check out the Sonoita Creek State Nature Area Visitor Center and view a variety of displays about local wildlife and native vegetation. Volunteers provide suggestions on locations to view a huge variety of birds and give suggestions for day hikes.
There is a dump station in the park, near the Lakeside Market that offers boat rentals, fishing licenses, bait and a limited amount of groceries, ice, hot dog sticks and antacids.
Photos: (Click on images to enlarge) From top: (1) Patagonia Lake State Park entry sign near Hwy 82. (2) Campsite #40 near lake, with potential shade in growing season. (3) Sonoita Creek State Nature Area Visitor Center. (4) Reed and cat tails on lake edge near sunset. (All photos by Julianne G. Crane.)