While it may not have the mountains, rivers, and landscape of Patagonia in South America, Patagonia Lake State Park in southeastern Arizona is distinctive in its own way.
A state park since 1975, this gorgeous desert park is a favorite of the locals and should be on any Arizona camper’s bucket list!
What Makes Patagonia Lake State Park So Special?
Other than the state park being a mecca for all sorts of outdoor activities, perhaps what makes this nature spot so unique is the bird watching opportunities. For bird lovers, this is the promised land.
With over three hundred different bird species that have been recognized at the park, there will be no shortage of bird scouting. Be on the lookout for thick-billed kingbirds, Violet-crowned hummingbirds, canyon towhee, and many others. Bring your bird guides- they will be put to good use!
Expert bird watchers are free to hike the park and look for bird species on their own time, but in the case you may need a little more help with identifying the myriad birds found at Patagonia (I can relate), there are two options to consider. There are expert-led hikes and even boat birding tours.
If you like the idea of getting your heart rate up a bit, perhaps the free walking tour is your best bet. A more relaxing choice is to go birding on the pontoon boat tour. Both tours require a minimum of four participants, so gather your fellow bird lovers and don’t forget to arrange your excursions ahead of time.
Things To Do At Patagonia Lake State Park
There is a wide assortment of activities for every type of outdoor enthusiast at Patagonia State Park. Whether you are more of a roughing-it kind of tent camper or you like glamping it up in nature, there are excellent camping spots found at Patagonia. The restroom facilities offer showers for campers’ convenience.
There are even beautifully furnished cabins that sit lakeside for even the most hesitant of nature would-be enthusiast. These cabins are equipped with air conditioning (a necessity in the sweltering summertime Arizona weather) and stunning sunrise or sunset views of the lake.
The lake offers boating, skiing, fishing, and of course, swimming (that is roped off for safety) and is a beautiful spot to lay by to soak up the hot Arizona sun.
Hiking and picnicking are other activities that are favorites among day visitors and campers alike. For those looking to escape the sun on a day trip, covered picnic areas with grills for barbecuing are available.
There is a small marina shop, called the Lakeside Market that has essentials like bait, licenses, ice, and small grocery items that may have been forgotten. There is even a gift section. The people who work here are friendly and knowledgeable about the area. If looking for more information on the area, a small visitors’ center is a wealth of knowledge.
Plants And Wildlife At The Park
The plants and wildlife are abundant in this beautiful nature spot. The lake is a 256-acre man-made natural wonder in the northern Sonoran desert. Within and near the state park is tree and plant life, such as willow trees, black walnut, netleaf hackberry, and many others.
Many animal species can be spotted in the park and around the lake. Keep your eyes and camera peeled for whitetail deer, coyotes, black bears, your standard raccoon, and the not-so-standard close relative to the raccoon, the coatimundi, that looks a lot like a monkey.
What Visitors Think Of The Park
A quick search on Trip Advisor for the park should yield results that show this place is well-loved. There will always be the negative Nancies who get upset there is dirt at a state park, so take the advice and reviews with a grain of salt.
Reviews show that visitors found the park to be a beautiful and great spot for birding and camping. The popular daytime activities, like boating, can make for a very busy and packed lakefront, but when the daytime visitors leave, the camp quiets down. When it grows dark, the desert sky will be alighted with stars, and the air cools. This makes for an excellent opportunity to sit around the campfire to make s’ mores.
Special Details Campers Should Be Aware Of
All campers and day use guests visiting a nature park should pack out what they pack in. Leaving no trace should be the aim, regardless of what is brought into the park.
Generators, jet skis, and jet boats are not allowed on the lake.
If bringing a dog, they must be kept on leashes and be cleaned up after.
Leave the cigarettes at home. Smoking is not permitted as visitors should be able to enjoy the clean outside air.
See a cool rock or bush? Take a picture and post it to Instagram instead of thinking it might be a cool souvenir. Tampering with and removing the natural property of the park is not allowed. Enjoy the beauty of the park and leave it for the next person to enjoy.
Patagonia Lake State Park Info
If you are visiting the park to camp, there are 105 sites complete with picnic tables (some with a ramada) and voltage of 50 amp and 20/30 amp. Most RVs will fit the spaces along with room for two cars. There are an additional two campsites that do not have electricity. Restrooms, with showers, are available.
There are boats for rent at the Patagonia Marina and Boat Rental that can be used to get to one of 12 exclusive boat-in campsites. These sites are only accessible by boat and those camping at these sites must follow the same quiet hours from 9 PM to 8 AM.
If camping is not your scene, there are cabins available to rent that are lakefront. For people who enjoy nature, but like to enjoy it in the air-conditioned comfort of a home, this is the perfect alternative. Seven furnished cabins on the southeast side of the lake are available to choose from.
Check out https://azstateparks.com/patagonia-lake for more detailed information on prices and availability for RV camping and cabin reservations.
Patagonia Lake State Park address:
400 Patagonia Lake Road, Patagonia, Arizona 85624.
Check out 40 Of The Best Places To Go Camping in Arizona for more great Arizona camping destinations.