Patagonia, approximately 18 miles north of the international
border lies in a narrow valley surrounded by the Santa
Rita Mountains to the north and the Patagonia to the south.
This contemporary town was founded in 1898 by Rollin R.
Richardson and incorporated in 1948. Both the town, at an elevation
of 4,044 feet, and the mountains take their name from
the Patagonia Mine.
Wholesale, retail trade and services are the predominant
economic activities in Santa Cruz County. Most of the trade
occurs in Nogales, an active produce-shipping point. The largest
private sector of employment in Patagonia is retail trade and services.
The business district is concentrated around Scenic Route,
state Highway 82, which passes through the center of the town.
All of Santa Cruz County is an Enterprise Zone.
Extensive mineral exploration is being conducted in the vicinity.
Construction activity is expected to increase with the building of
numerous planned communities within 15 miles of Patagonia.
The area has some of the finest ranches in the Southwest, with
specially bred cattle and quarter horses.
Nearby points of interest include recreational areas of the
Coronado National Forest, the Santa Rita Mountains to the
north and the Patagonia Mountains to the south. Lake
Patagonia, 10 miles from the town, and Parker Canyon Lake, 40
Miles away, provide facilities for fishing, boating, camping and
picnicking. Less than 20 miles from Patagonia are numerous
ghost towns. There are five art galleries in Patagonia which feature
many local artists.
The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Sanctuary, with its 300 species of
birds, is visited by people from all over the world. Santa Cruz
County has many National Register sites, two of which are of the
Spanish colonial period. Tumacacori National Monument was
visited by Father Kino in 1691, but its period of greatest activity
began 100 years later and continued until about 1821. The
ruins, grounds, and museum, administered by the National Park
Service, are open to the public. Tubac Presidio, a Spanish colonial
site valuable as a microcosm of Southern Arizona before
statehood is now a State Historic Park. The village was first settled
by Indian farmers, then by Spanish missionaries, soldiers,
and farmers. It was the repeated victim of Apache raids for
approximately 100 years. In 1854, American mining interests
established themselves in the adobe ruins.
Another National Register site, the Old Tubac Schoolhouse was
built in 1885. Other nearby historic sites are Calabasas, an Indian
village, and Guevavi Mission Ruins, the center of Jesuit mission
activities in Arizona.
Patagonia Lake State Park
Patagonia Lake State Park encompasses a 275-acre reservoir that is the perfect backdrop for hiking, fishing, water skiing, camping and picnicking. The lake was created by damming up Sonoita Creek and is 2.5 miles long. It is tucked into the rolling grasslands of Sonoita Valley. The Arizona State Parks Department manages the State Park. The park is at an elevation of 4,000 feet, making the climate ideal all year round. Although, the best times to make your visit is in the spring or fall.
Fishermen will enjoy dropping their line in search of largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie or bluegill. You will find rainbow trout in the winter when they are released into the lake. There is a no wake area designated on the lake for fishing. A marina is available, along with a level fishing pad for wheelchairs.
Hiking trails circle the lake. You should find a ranger, who can point out where you can see the petroglyphs on the far side of the lake. You can get to the petroglyphs by hiking or by boat.
Campers will enjoy the lake too. Campsites range from undeveloped to ones with water and electric hookups. The campground fee is $5.00 a day and $7.00 for hookups. If you want to make your visit in the day only, the charge is $2.00.
The lake is a favorite among water lovers. It has a boat ramp, swimming beach, picnic ramadas, gas pumps, supplies and boat rentals. During the summer months, the lake attracts so many people. This influx of people has caused the park to prohibit water skiing and jet skiing on weekends and holidays from May to October.
If you would like more information on the park and its services, call 520-287-6965.
You can get to Patagonia Lake State Park from Nogales by taking State Highway 82 east out of town. It is approximately 12 miles north of Nogales. Just before you get to the town of Patagonia, you will come across signs to Patagonia Lake State Park. The turn off is going to be heading to the west. You can get to the park from Patagonia by taking State Highway 82 southwest out of town. It is approximately 10 miles out of town. You will see signs directing you to the park.
This state park is a fun place to visit and enjoy the outdoor activities available.
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve
Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is owned and managed by the Nature Conservancy. It is the first preserve the Nature Conservancy had in Arizona. The 770-acre lush riparian habitat is ideal for the many birds that call this sanctuary home. The preserve lies between the Santa Rita and Patagonia mountains, where the Sonoita Creek passes through. The plant life is abundant in the area. Cottonwoods, willows, velvet ash and Arizona mulberry are just a few of the trees growing naturally.
The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve has over 250 species of birds. The preserve is a popular spot for birders from all over the world. Many individuals have spotted spectacular birds. The Gray Hawks have been seen making their nests in the cottonwoods.
The Common Black Hawk, Thick-billed Kingbird, Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Violet-crowned hummingbird, Rose-throated Becards and others find the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve a safe haven. Birders will discover that the months of April, May, and June are the best months for viewing. Yet, due to the preserve’s numerous migratory birds, any month is a good month for a visit. Visitors will not only find birds in the preserve.
There is a variety of wildlife roaming the area. White-tailed deer, coatimundi, javelina, Arizona gray squirrel and badgers also live in the woods. The Sonoita Creek, which flows through the sanctuary, is another habitat for animals. The Gila topminnow, along with other native Arizonan fish enjoy the waters of the creek.
The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve wants to make sure the creatures living here continue to make this their home. In order to make sure this takes place, the preserve requests visitors follow the rules. There is no picnicking, camping or pets allowed in the preserve. The visitor center provides restrooms, water, and informative displays. On Saturday mornings at 9:00, there is a guided walk through the preserve.
The preserve has an unusual schedule of operation hours, due to the need to provide privacy for the wildlife. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The preserve is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7:30 to 3:30 pm. The cost of admission is $5.00. If you would like more information on the preserve, you may call 520-394-2400.
You may reach the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve from Patagonia along State Highway 82 by turning west onto Fourth Avenue. Then turn left and head south onto Pennsylvania Avenue. You will need to cross the creek, but do not attempt this if you cannot see the bottom. The preserve is on the south side of Patagonia. You will follow the signs directing you to the visitor center.