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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.
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!
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.
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?)
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…
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