If you know anything about Arizona, you probably know that there are dozens of hidden gems tucked away all throughout this beautiful state. Well, Patagonia Lake is one of the state’s most special gems of all! Located among the rolling hills of southeastern Arizona, Patagonia Lake State Park is home to a beautiful lake, sandy shores, scenic campground, and so much more.
Patagonia Lake State Park is a great spot for solo travelers, couples, and families alike. If you’re looking to learn more, we have your back. Keep reading to find out more about what Patagonia Lake State Park is known for as well as the area’s must-see spots, shoreline trails, open hours, entrance fees, picnic grounds, campsites, and nearby accommodations.
1. What is Patagonia Lake State Park Known for?
We’ll cut right to the chase, Patagonia Lake State Park is one of Arizona’s best parks to boat, fish, and swim. Visitors can be found enjoying the park’s sunny weather and blue water at all times of the year.
Patagonia Lake State Park is best known as a boating destination. Both motorized and non-motorized boats are allowed to use Patagonia Lake, but personal water-crafts like jet-skis are not allowed. Water-skiing and other behind-the-boat water sports are allowed on weekdays and weekends from October through April. From May through September, water sports are allowed on weekdays, but not on weekends or holidays.
Please note that Patagonia Lake is divided into two distinct sections:
- East End – No wake speed only.
- West End – Unlimited speed in a counter-clockwise direction.
Visitors who would like to rent a boat at Patagonia Lake can do so in the boat trailer parking lot. Here, you will find canoes, rowboats, paddle-boats, and pontoon boats available for rent. Call the Patagonia Lake Marina at (520) 287-2804 for prices. Hours vary by season.
There are two paved boat ramps available at Patagonia Lake State Park. The park’s day-use entrance fee and/or camping permit will allow you to launch your boat for no additional cost.
Another popular reason to visit Patagonia Lake is to fish. The 265-acre lake is home to healthy populations of largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, sunfish, and seasonal rainbow trout. Fishing supplies and permits can be purchased at the Patagonia Lake Market in the marina’s boat trailer parking lot.
Swimmers are welcome to enjoy the cool waters of Patagonia Lake anywhere they would like to, except the boating dock areas. For the safest swimming experience, we recommend visiting the designated roped-off swimming area at Boulder Beach. However, there is no lifeguard on duty anywhere inside of the park, and swimming is always at your own risk.
2. Top Spots to See at Patagonia Lake State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park stands out because of the incredible programming put on by their Park Rangers throughout the year. If you’re planning a visit, we recommend scheduling a boat tour or birding hike to round out your Patagonia Lake experience. These two activities will give you an up-close and personal look at some of the park’s most beautiful features.
You won’t find this in every park! Patagonia Lake State Park offers seasonal pontoon boat tours every Saturday morning at 9:00 am from October through April. These tours are led by an experienced boatman and are a great way to see several bird species up close and personal. Be sure to sign up early at the Visitor Center and bring your binoculars!
There is a maximum of nine participants per tour. If you have a whole group, call 1-520-287-2791 to schedule in advance. More than one tour can be offered in a day if the demand is high. All boat tours leave from the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area Office within the park.
Another unique Patagonia Lake State Park program is the free Park Ranger-led birding hikes. Make arrangements ahead of time by calling the park. A minimum of four hikers must sign up before hikes will be conducted. If you miss the tour, you can check out the highlights at the Visitor Center’s 2:00 pm slideshow every Saturday.
3. Hiking and Trails Information
Patagonia Lake State Park has a half-mile hiking trail that visitors can walk to Sonoita Creek. However, if you’re looking for more intense hiking, you won’t need to go far. There are over twenty miles of additional trails that can be accessed through the neighboring Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. For example, the Overlook Trail is a 1.5-mile hike that is close to Patagonia Lake State Park and is a great way to get a feel for the spectacular scenery around the area. Ask a Patagonia Lake State Park Ranger for more information and they will be happy to help!
4. Park Camping Information
Park and Facility Hours
Patagonia Lake State Park is open from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm every single day of the year. The Visitor Center is open daily from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. Please note that the park’s Ranger Station and Park Store hours vary depending on the season. For more information, please visit the Patagonia Lake State Park website.
Day-Use Entrance Fees
- Per Vehicle (up to four adults): $15-$20
- Per Individual or Bicycle: $3
Visitor Center and Market
The Patagonia Lake State Park Visitor Center offers a wide array of brochures with information about the surrounding area and other destinations. Park Rangers are available here to answer any questions you may have. There is also a market located inside the boat trailer parking lot that sells fishing licenses, firewood, grocery items, alcohol, and other camping supplies. You can contact the Patagonia Lake Market at (520) 287-5545 if you have any specific questions.
Day-Use Picnic Areas
Don’t forget to bring snacks! A good amount of picnic tables and shaded ramadas are located at Patagonia Lake’s beach and day-use areas.
Tent and RV Camping Information
Patagonia Lake State Park offers 105 campsites. Each site is developed with a picnic table, a fire pit, a fire grill, electricity, access to water, and parking for two vehicles. A select number of the Patagonia Lake campsites also contain a shaded ramada.
Boat-In Camping Information
Boaters, you can stay too… right on the water! Patagonia Lake has 12 boat-in campsites along their shoreline. These sites offer a picnic table, fire pit, nearby portable restrooms, and a fire grill. Please note, these sites are accessible by boat only.
Patagonia Lake campground reservations can be made on the Patagonia Lake State Park website or with the Arizona State Parks department by phone at 1-877-MY PARKS (697-2757) during normal office hours.
5. Where to Stay Near Patagonia Lake State Park
If you prefer to sleep with air conditioning, Patagonia Lake offers that too! Visitors are welcome to reserve one of seven camping cabins with lake views, covered patios, fire pits, electricity, and air conditioning and heat. The Patagonia Lake cabins are located on the southeastern side of the lake and offer a quiet escape from other travelers and campers. Each cabin is located within walking distance of restrooms and showers and sleeps up to four people with a maximum capacity of six people.
To make a Patagonia Lake cabin reservation, visit the Patagonia Lake State Park website or call the Arizona State Parks Reservations Desk at 1-877-MY PARKS during normal office hours.
If you’re looking for a hotel or bed and breakfast accommodations, we recommend checking out the town of Nogales, Arizona. Nogales is only 10 miles from Patagonia Lake and has plenty of lodging options to choose from.
No matter where you stay, you’re sure to sleep well after a day at Patagonia Lake. The clear blue skies and incredible scenery are just a bonus to the fun you’ll have inside of this Arizona State Park.