During our stay at Kartchner Caverns State Park, we spent a day kayaking at nearby Patagonia Lake State Park. The 265-acre lake is popular for boating, water skiing, swimming, fishing, camping, picnicking and hiking. Plus it is a hot spot for birders. For us, it was a real treat getting to play on the water on a 70+ degree day in early December!
The park’s website provides this history: Patagonia Lake and the associated recreation facilities were constructed in the late 1960’s by a group of citizens incorporated as the Lake Patagonia Recreation Association, Inc. (LPRA). A mild climate, the scenic and historic qualities of the Sonoita Creek watershed, and diverse water-related recreational opportunities led to popularity of the lake and facilities that the Association was not prepared for. Recreational uses were immediately successful with camping, boating, water skiing, fishing, picnicking, and swimming as the predominant activities. The LPRA soon recognized that insufficient capital was available to meet the demand, provide for the health and safety requirements of the increasing user base, and make the payments to the Farm Home Administration. As early as 1972, Ted Blue contacted State Parks offering to sell the acreage he owned surrounding the Patagonia Lake development and to assist the Agency in the acquisition of the lake and recreational improvements held by the Lake Patagonia Recreation Association. Three years later, Patagonia Lake State Park was dedicated on April 1, 1975.
Things to Do
Patagonia Lake State Park offers a variety of things to do. For the naturalist, an abundance of wildlife can be seen including bobcat, coatimundi, coues whitetail deer, javelina, coyote and a large variety of reptiles. The area is a favorite migratory stop for an impressive number of bird species making the park popular with birders. Click here for a list of recent bird sightings. We saw all your typical lake birds such as coots, grey heron, cormorant, etc. The thrill of our day was spotting two black-crowned night heron perched silently in trees along the lakeshore.
Both motorized and non-motorized boating are allowed at Patagonia Lake (jet-skis, waterbikes, above-water exhausts boats, and V-8 jet boats are prohibited). The east end of the lake is a no wake zone making it ideal for kayaking and birding. Water-Skiing is allowed from October 1st through April 30th. From May 1st until October 1st, water-skiing is not allowed on weekends or holidays due to congestion. For fisherman, the lake holds a healthy population of largemouth bass, channel and flathead catfish, crappie, sunfish, and rainbow trout. I hear some of the fish are quite large!
It is unusual for us to visit an area and not hike, but that was the case during our short time at Patagonia. Twenty miles of trails are available for hiking and eight miles of trails are shared with equestrians at adjacent Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. Established in 1994, the mission of Sonoita Creek State Natural Area is to preserve this fragile riparian area and its surrounding environment.
The Patagonia Lake campground has 105 developed campsites, each with a picnic table and fire-ring/grill. Most have water and electric hookups and some also have ramadas. A dump station and showers are available. For those looking for a more primitive experience, twelve boat-in campsites are scattered along the lakeshore. Click here for more information on camping at Patagonia. Additionally, seven cabins are available for rent, each with beautiful views of the lake. Click here for more information on cabins at Patagonia.
The park also has a marina, beach, and day use area with picnic tables and ramadas. A group day use area capable of seating 60 people under a ramada is available for rent.
Patagonia Lake State Park is located off State Route 82, 7 miles south of Patagonia, Arizona. For us, it was an hour, each direction, from Kartchner Caverns. It was a nice drive with light traffic and lovely scenery. The park is open 365 days a year, but gates are closed from 10:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m. each night. The Patagonia Ranger Station is open daily (click here for current hours) and the Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00-3:30. Entrance fees are: $15 per vehicle (Monday – Friday), $20 per vehicle (weekends and holidays), and $3 per bicycle.
The Adventure Continues
Be sure to join us for our next post as we hike through history at Fort Bowie National Historic Site. And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase, you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated!