Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Roper Lake State Park, Safford, Arizona

Backroads Destination-Roper Lake State Park, Safford, Arizona

The Safford area of Arizona looks rather interesting on a map.  It has hot springs, the Gila River, Coronado National Forest, BLM Gila Box Riparian Conservation Area, and tons of BLM and state of Arizona desert lands.  We started out looking for the hot springs and other attractions when we drove past Roper Lake State Park.

It is an attractive very developed state park complete with campground, picnic area, swimming area, fishing area, and even a natural stone hot tub.  The lake is the star attraction at 30 acres.  There is also a boat launch, but boats are limited to electric motors only creating a quiet environment.  The lake is stocked with largemouth bass and rainbow trout during the winter months.

The campground is fairly attractive and the spurs easily fit large vehicles.  Sites have electric and water, but no sewer hook-up for $23 a night without a shaded ramada at your campsite.  If you want a shaded ramada the price goes up to $25 a night.  So the price of shade in the desert is $2 a day.  I suspect around August people will be more than willing to pay the extra two dollars.  In March most folks opted for the sunshine.

The park is located in a great birdwatching area.  There is another unit of the park Dankworth Pond located three miles south that is a day use site only.  It has fishing for catfish and probably better bird watching than the park.

There is a hot spring and tub at the park right above the upper campground spur.  Water temperature is at 105 degrees, but it looks like it has limited seating!  Given that this is a state park the rules and regulations are clearly posted right next to the tub.

This is clearly the place to go if you want to avoid naked old people!!  There are several hot springs in the Safford area on BLM and other ownerships, but we found most of them closed or out of commission this winter.  Here is a LINK discussing the hot springs, but way out-of-date since it was posted in 1997.  But it will give you a starting point for asking questions from the BLM and others.

Here is the official link to Roper Lake State Park.  Be sure to click on the photo's section.

There are plenty of BLM sites to boondock.  See the BLM link here:  BLM Camping Arizona.  As you can see from the map there are plenty of camping ground just north of the Interstate towards Safford.   

There is much more to do around the Safford area.  We were surprised to see very few snowbirds exploring this area.  It is off the beaten track.  We will be back.  I suspect that this area will not remain off the beaten track for long.  Next posting will be on the BLM lands.

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