Sonoita Creek Locator Map

Elevation 3,750 feet   Fees

Contact the Park:
(520) 287-2791
Sonoita Creek NA
400 Lake Patagonia Rd
Patagonia, AZ 85624


Visitor Center Restrooms Exhibits Group: Day Use Areas Camping Picnic Areas/Shelters Hiking Trails Equestrian Trails Wildlife Viewing

Nearest Services: 12 miles

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511 Speed Code

511 logo

Park's Speed Code: 4240#


Park Entrance Fees:
Pay at Patagonia Lake SP Entrance Station
Per Vehicle (1-4 Adults): $10-$15
Individual: $3.00

Obtain day use permit from Visitor Center for entry into Sonoita Creek. Permit is limited to 30 individuals per day.

Camping Fees:
Primitive hike-in site: $12

Fee Schedule

Friends Group

Friends of Sonoita Creek

Friends of Sonoita Creek, a non-profit organization

The Sonoita Creek State Natural Area Visitor's Center is open!

On Site Volunteers Needed! See Volunteer page for more information.


Bird watching in the park!

Check out the latest bird sightings from our park! ( 111KB PDF)


Download a January events program HERE( 109 KB PDF)

January 1 - 1st Day Hikes

9am. - Petroglyph Hike
Meet at the Visitor Center. Petroglyph Site Hike: This hike is approximately three miles round trip. On top of the Petroglyph Site hill, explore the many petroglyphs and enjoy beautiful views of Patagonia Lake State Park and the surrounding area. The hike also takes participants through the popular birding trail, where you may get a glimpse of an Elegant Trogon. The hike is moderately difficulty with some elevation gain and rock scrambling required at the Petroglyph Hill. Wear sturdy shoes, bring water and perhaps a walking stick. Sunscreen, binoculars and a camera are also recommended.

9am. - Overlook Hike
The Overlook Hike, approximately 1.5 miles round-trip, is moderately difficult with a 400' elevation gain. Wear sturdy shooes, bring a camera, water, and perhaps a walking stick.

January 12 - Moonlight Hike

4:30pm. Experience the view of Sonoita Creek Natural Area & Patagonia Lake by moonlight. Wear sturdy shoes; bring water, a flashlight, maybe a camera & perhaps a walking stick. The trail is moderately difficult & rocky with a 400' elevation gain.

January 20 - Petroglyph Hike

9am.The Petroglyph Hike, approximately 3 miles round trip, is moderately difficult but some rock scrambling is required at the top. Wear sturdy shoes, bring a camera, water and perhaps a walking stick.

Ride your horse from Patagonia Lake to Rio Rico, AZ, through Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. Hiking, camping, bird watching and school field trips are also available.


The Sonoita Creek Natural Area Visitors Center will close for the season on Monday, April 14, 2017.
The last Boat tours of the season will end on Sunday, April 9, 2017.
The last Bird Walk will be on Monday, April 14, 2017.

Established in 1994, Sonoita Creek State Natural Area's mission is to preserve this fragile riparian area and its surrounding environment. Encompassing a major portion of the Sonoita Creek and Coal Mine Spring watersheds, this is the State of Arizona's first significant Natural Area.

The Natural Area protects not only the endangered Gila Topminnow and serveral special-status birds, but also historical and cultural relics. Low impact recreations such as hiking, and bird watching co-exist with education and scientific research of Sonoita Creek State Natural Area.


Sonoita Creek State Natural Area is unique in that, within a relatively small area, seven distinct vegetative communities are present ranging from Semi-Desert Grasslands to Riparian Deciduous Forests. The visual and biological characteristics of these communities are markedly different, and their combined presence in a relatively small area is quite rare.

The Natural Area is located in a transitional zone between the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert. Representative species from each zone can be observed within its boundaries.

Park & Natural AreaSonoita Creek State Natural Area and Patagonia Lake State Park are located next to each other in Patagonia, Arizona. The Natural Area conserves the land in its natural state, so you won’t find restrooms or modern camping facilities in the Natural Area.

Use Patagonia Lake State Park as your base camp to enjoy the hiking, horseback riding, and natural surroundings of the Sonoita Creek area. Please practice “Leave No Trace” ethics.

Because of a reduction in staffing at the Park, currently the program is not being offered.

Educational Curriculum for School Field Trips

Healthy Water Education Program: For Grades 3 through 6
A curriculum called The Healthy Water Education Program was developed at Sonoita Creek State Natural Area by State Park and educators several years ago for use with grades 3 to 6. It is available for use by teachers or parents. The curriculum includes activities for learning about water temperature, PH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity through water testing. Students learn to use microscopes to observe and identify microscopic animals in lake water. The chapter on Pollution is from a fish's point of view. The activities and concepts are aligned with the State Science Curriculum Standards.

Download Healthy Water Education Program Curriculum (PDF Document 1.6 MB PDF)
Download Healthy Water Journal (PDF Document 460 KB PDF) Please print out a journal for each student. Can be printed 2-sided.

Learn about Curriculums at other Arizona State Parks (Curriculums)

New Mexico and Arizona Railroad

Sections of this railroad once paralleled Sonoita Creek from Patagonia to Rio Rico. The New Mexico and Arizona Railroad Trail follows the old railroad bed. Remains of the past can be seen in the form of culverts, bridge abutments, pilings, spikes and rails. Please leave these artifacts for others to enjoy.

Management Goals

  • Maintain natural surface water flow.
  • Protect and restore riparian habitat.
  • Protect and restore upland habitat.
  • Maintain diverse and healthly population of native wildlife.
  • Protect existing populations of special-status native wildlife species.
  • Protect cultural resources.
  • Provide opportunities for appropriate public use for recreaion, resource interpretation, environmental education, and scientific research.
  • Develop mutually beneficial partnerships that facilitate resource management and protection within the Sonoita Creek watershed.

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