Patagonia Lake State Park at sunset -> it was still as glass, but teeming with bird-song

Patagonia Lake State Park at sunset -> it was still as glass, but teeming with bird-song

We’ve made it to our most southerly point for the rest of this year. That point is a quirky little community nestled in a  in a riparian corridor (riparian being a rather fancy term for “by the water”) between the Santa Rita Mountains and Patagonia  Mountains in SE Arizona. It’s an artsy, eco-friendly kind of place that’s very much in synch with the nature around it….and in Patagonia alot of that nature pertains to birds.

A green respite for weary desert eyes

A green respite for weary desert eyes

A Gila woodpecker

A Gila woodpecker

We headed out here a few days ago to lounge away the week-end in Patagonia Lake State Park. The main draw for us here was the lake -> a 2 1/2 mile long man-made lake that would give our desert-weary eyes a well-deserved green rest and doggie a well-deserved few days of frolicking in the water.

The bonus was the birding, a side-effect I didn’t quite expect (given how little I know about birds) but one that became a welcome addition to the experience. This spot is literally teeming with birds providing an almost constant background song at your campsite. And a stroll along the 3 mile on-site birding trail takes you deep into green trees, relaxing creeks and lots of colorful and pretty specimens fluttering and chatting in the trees. Quite lovely!

Signs of spring on the trail!

But that’s not all there is here. Patagonia is quite the little art and food spot. Within a teeny 3-block downtown area there’s at least 4 art galleries, several restaurants, a yoga studio, a coffee shop and an excellent organic food market (Red Mountain Foods). There’s not alot here, but what they got is all good stuff!

Given such a lovely selection we dug in and engaged ourselves in several excellent outings.

At Birders Haven with Jil&Tom...what a neat little place!

At Birders Haven with Jil&Tom…what a neat little place!

On Saturday our buddies Jil&Tom came by to take us on some birding and sample the fare at the rather iconic Velvet Elvis restaurant. We had a lovely walk in the park, an outstanding lunch with hibiscus-infused margaritas (drool!) and afterwards they took us to a local birding secret “Paton’s Birders Haven” -> a local house set-up with chairs and feeders for anyone to enjoy. We sat for a good hour watching the birds and learning about them from the other folks in the garden. Even for a non-birder like me this was rather a cool experience, and I dare say I learned a few things (who knew it was possible?)

Harshaw Ghost town...at least the ONE building that's left

Harshaw Ghost town…at least the ONE building that’s still left here

The surrounding area also lends itself to some lovely road-trips and a bit of hiking. Nearby Sonoita Creek State Preserve has at least 30 miles of hiking trails, while the Coronado National Forest just south of Patagonia has some lovely driving trails. We completed a loop starting in downtown Patagonia at Harshaw Road, driving past the old ghost town of Harshaw (nothing much left here except for a single house and a rather colorful graveyard), down FS 49 and back along a picturesque ridge on FS 214 to FS 58 to Harshaw Creek Road (FS 139). If you’re feeling adventurous along this loop you can even stop off at FS 4649 and hike or 4WD to the top of Red Mountain. As an added bonus there are lots of excellent boondocking spots along these same roads too. Fun to scope out and plan for future stays!

The only downer of our whole week-end? The State Park was full to the brink with tons of kids and people. It was almost an assault on the senses after our peaceful days out in the boonies. Thankfully our site was mostly away from the crowds and we were able to find solitude on the trail and our drives, but after a few days of people overflow we both yearned to be back in the grasslands. So, that’s where we’re going. See ya back in the boonies, my friends…

Road-trip in the Coronado National Forest

Road-trip in the Coronado National Forest

Afternoon at the lake

Afternoon at the lake

Hibiscus-infused margaritas...yum!!

Hibiscus-infused margaritas…yum!!

With Jil & Tom at the Velvet Elvis

With Jil & Tom at the Velvet Elvis

The cute "butterfly garden" in Patagonia

The cute “butterfly garden” in Patagonia

Colorful downtown Patagonia

Colorful downtown Patagonia

The graveyard at Harshaw

The graveyard at Harshaw

More spring flowers

More spring flowers

Spring flowers in afternoon light

Afternoon light delight

Polly eyes a cow on the trail

Polly suspiciously eyes a cow on the birding trail

24 Responses to A Walk With Birds, Food & Art -> Patagonia, AZ

  1. It was years ago we were in that area. Need to make it back. So many great places so little time.

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s a neat little place to spend time, especially this time of year. Perfect weather right now.
      Nina

  2. Chris says:

    Thank you for allowing us to live vicariously through you! We hope to make journeys similar to yours as soon as we are in a position to ditch the jobs and the house!

  3. I still have a cherished bag i purchased in Patagonia. It is made of oil cloth material and it is one of my grocery bags.

    • libertatemamo says:

      I’m amazed at how many little arts and crafts stores there are in Patagonia…a cool little town.
      Nina

  4. Was the flower infused Margarita yummy? I would be in heaven if I was in the Patron Birders Haven. Glad you had fun out there in the birders paradise, our memories of Patagonia were rain and a leak. As always the captures are beautiful.

  5. geogypsy2u says:

    You will become a birder eventually. I’m now dieing to try one of those margaritas.

  6. Amanda says:

    Patagonia was on our route until we decided to move north instead of south from Tucson. Sounds like we missed out on a wonderful spot. Will put it on the list for the future. Right there with you on the overload of people and kids this week. Things are pretty crazy here at Zion right now. Gotta love school vacation :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh yeah, I bet Zion is going nuts w/ people! By next week it should be a little quieter (I hope!). We’re back at Las Cienegas and (thankfully) all by ourselves again.
      Nina

  7. Kentster says:

    What a wonderful setting. We were just there so the photos are bringing back the memories. That’s not a cow, that is a Patagonia Elk according to Elliot, one of the camp hosts and birder!

  8. Marsha says:

    We missed Patagonia. Looks like a lovely area.

    I love any margaritas. Yours looks delicious!!!

  9. jil mohr says:

    We had a great time too. You are becoming a first class birder so watch out :) Loved it all….

  10. John Kopotic says:

    please excuse my ignorance, but what is on the ground in the picutre of the house at Harshaw Ghost Town? It looks like snow?

    • libertatemamo says:

      It’s actually just dirt. I played around with that picture in photoshop to make it a combo of black/white and color (bits of each). I liked the “ghostly” effect :)
      Nina

  11. LuAnn says:

    Glad you made it to the Velvet Elvis. Did you get a chance to meet Cecilia? Your photos are fabulous Nina. :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Yup we did. Lovely lady! Sadly they were out of the stew when we went, but we had a lovely soup and salad…and the margaritas of course!
      Nina

  12. Emily says:

    Patagonia looks and sounds like our kind of place! One question for you is why you chose to go there when it was so busy (i.e., Easter week)? Like you, we don’t like crowds, so I was just curious. Seems like this week is best for boondocking… :-)

    • libertatemamo says:

      Well you may have noticed the blog is a few days behind our current location. We spent last weekend getting re-loaded in Patagonia and have been in the boonies by ourselves most of this week. Not too shabby :)
      Nina

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