RVing, Birding & Presidents Day: Patagonia, AZ

Many of us will observe Presidents Day today with strong feelings—pro and con—about those who have been in that office. However, since this is NOT a political blog of either the right or the left, I will leave that annalysis to others.

Patagonia Lake State Park is a popular camping, boating, and birding site. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On this Presidents Day let’s get out-of-doors, enjoy nature, and celebrate what’s great about America—our freedom to RV across the country, camp in our choice of national, state, county, and local parks and private campgrounds, and to freely take part in leisure time activities and hobbies such as hiking, birding, and photography,

Between the majestic Santa Rita and beautiful red Patagonia mountains is the rustically charming town of Patagonia. Set among rich foothills and valley grasslands, towering cottonwoods, and the Sonita and Harshaw creeks, Patagonia has been called the “Jewel of the Sonoita Valley” due to its natural beauty and vitality.

Since early days, Patagonia’s oak grasslands, at over 4,000 feet have provided excellent climate and terrain for cattle ranching, and the Patagonia Mountains, filled with rich ore bodies, have attracted miners.

At first glance Patagonia is a town that you pass through on the way to somewhere else. However, a second glance will reveal some surprises about this historical former Spanish land grant.

There is a growing community of artists and crafts people that have decided that this is a very desirable area to live and work.

For nature lovers, this area is in itself a delight

The vermillion flycatcher is one of 260 species of birds that can be seen at Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, and water activities are popular outdoor activities.

And Patagonia is an internationally renowned “birdwatching” destination with visitors from around the world stopping here to see over 250 species of rare and exotic birds that migrate from Mexico to this southeastern tip of Arizona.

Patagonia Lake State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park is a popular camping and birding site located 12 miles south of town. The park’s campground offers 72 developed sites, 34 sites with hookups, and 12 boat access sites. Other park facilities include a beach, picnic area with Ramadas, tables and grills, a creek trail, boat ramps, marina and camp supply store, restrooms, showers, and a dump station.

Hikers can stroll along the beautiful creek trail and see a variety of birds such as the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, and elegant trogon.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy, is 850 acres of cottonwood and willow forests with trees as old as 130 years and as tall as 100 feet. Well-marked trails take visitors along two miles of the perennial Sonoita Creek and into undeveloped flood plains. More than 260 species of birds call the preserve home, including the gray hawk, green kingfisher, vermillion flycatcher, and violet-crowned hummingbird.

In Patagonia, drive north on 4th Avenue; turn left at the “T” onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Preserve closed Mondays and Tuesdays year-round.

Paton’s Hummingbirds

A visit to Paton’s Humingbirds doesn’t disappoint. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On your way to the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, stop for a visit to Wally and Marion Patons’ home; it’s on the edge of town on your left. It’s OK, they know you’re coming.

They have installed bird feeders around their rear yard and have hummingbird feeders from the eaves of the roof. The Patons are famous for their birds and people come from all around the world to visit. The place is a magnet for hummingbirds. Their “Hummingbirders Welcome” sign on the front gate is emphasized by the gazebo tent and lawn chairs for their guests (you, not the birds) so that you can watch them in complete comfort.

Happy RVing

Worth Pondering…
I only went for a walk, and finally concluded to stay till sundown,
for going out, I found, was really going in.
—John Muir

Leave a Reply