Sonoita Creek State Natural Area RV & Campground Guide

Arizona

Tucked away near the Arizona-Mexico border, Sonoita Creek State Natural Area is a spectacular spot where the Sonoran Desert meets the Chihuahuan Desert. Here, the calm waters of Sonoita Creek sparkle in the sunshine and rugged peaks rise in the distance. A 20-mile network of hiking trails and 8 miles of horseback riding trails wind through the hills and along the water, taking you far into the wilderness. As you explore, watch for the artifacts from the old railroad that once ran through the area.

Sonoita Creek State Natural Area sits 3,500 feet above sea level — this means it offers a warm, pleasant respite from the scorching heat at lower elevations in nearby Tucson and Nogales. As you’re packing, keep in mind that temperatures can vary wildly; the coldest month of January sees temperatures between 27 degrees and 64 degrees while June days can be as cold as 54 degrees and as hot as 96 degrees (spring and fall temperatures hover around 78 degrees).

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Weather
Spring 54-100 F
Summer 71-100 F
Fall 42-85 F
Winter 27-64 F
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Nearby Cities
Patagonia, AZ
Sonoita, AZ
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

Given its remote location, an RV is the perfect way to experience Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. In the winter, a motorhome offers shelter from cool evening winds; in the summer, it provides a shady spot to rest. 

Patagonia Lake State Park Campground

For RV camping, the closest option to Sonoita Creek State Natural Area is Patagonia Lake State Park campground; in fact, you can hike right into the natural area from the park. With more than 100 campsites, each with a fire ring and a picnic table, this is a great spot to enjoy the outdoors. Every site comes with electric hookups in 20/30/50-amp service. Be sure to check the site length when you book online, particularly if you’re coming in a big rig. Extra vehicles come with an additional fee; this amount does not apply to a car that you’re towing behind an RV. Sites start at $25. Nearby, you’ll find opportunities for boating, hiking, swimming, and fishing.

Patagonia RV Park

Looking for a luxurious camping experience? Drive about 12 miles from the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area to Patagonia RV Park. This park offers 30 sites, each with full hookups. Coming in a bigger RV? Book one of the six pull-through sites for easy camp setup. Within the park, you’ll find a handy camp store, a laundry room, and a game room. Plus, every site comes with free wireless internet that reaches to every corner of the park. Depending on the site you book, you can wake up to views of the Santa Rita Mountains. Sites start at $35 per day with discounts for weekly and monthly stays. Expect to pay a slightly higher rate if you need 50-amp electric hookups.

Mountain View RV Ranch

About 38 miles from the Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Mountain View RV Ranch is a fun option for families. Here, you can camp beneath Elephant Head Mountain and enjoy excellent hiking right from your site. Inside the park, cool off in the pool or get online with the free Wi-Fi connection. Everyone is welcome to use games like cornhole and shipboard, and the community fire pit is a great place to make friends. With the on-site general store, laundry room, and shower houses, you’ll have everything you need. Plus, there’s a huge network of trails nearby for hiking, ATV riding, and horseback riding. Most sites offer full hookups for about $32 per night; you can also opt for a dry campsite for $21 per night or an electric-only site for $24 per night.

White Rock Campground

If you have a very small RV or trailer, head to White Rock Campground. Located about 27 miles from Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, this is the perfect place to get off the grid. However, sites are small, so it only accepts RVs and trailers of 22 feet or smaller. Since the campground sits next to Peña Blanca Creek, you can fall asleep to the sound of running water. Nearby, Peña Blanca Lake offers a great place to relax. This campground is dry, and no water is available, but it does offer toilets. Sites are $15 per night.

RV Rentals Near Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

Nearby RV Rentals

Restaurants

What to Do at
Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

Inside Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

Inside Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, the most popular activity is hiking; with more than 20 miles of trails to explore, you can choose to stay near other hikers or enjoy the wilderness on your own. Hike along the New Mexico & Arizona Railroad trail for excellent water views and an easy walk into nearby Patagonia Lake State Park. For the most remote walk, hike the Coal Mine Spring loop. The reserve is also popular with birders who come to see the elegant trogon, black-capped gnatcatcher, and the rufous-backed robin (check the schedule because you might be lucky enough to join a birding hike or boat tour). If you’d like to know about the geography or the history of the area, pop over to the visitor center in the state park.

Outside Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

Sonoita Creek State Natural Area is quite remote. To get to a restaurant, you’ll need to drive about 30 minutes into Rio Rico. This area also features several shops that are great for souvenir hunters. 

Restaurants

Restaurant La Bocanita

Fill up after a day of hiking at Restaurant La Bocanita, one of the most popular spots in Rio Rico. This restaurant serves hearty servings of classic Mexican fare. It’s particularly well-known for its seafood dishes

Type: Mexican

Location: 1185 Circulo Mercado, Rio Rico, AZ 85648

Moqah Coffee & Beyond

Grab a latte and a sandwich at this laid-back cafe, which features a menu packed with panini, wraps, and salads. It’s particularly good for breakfast — try the bagel sandwiches.

Type: Coffee, Light Meals

Location: 1060 Yavapai Dr Suite 6, Rio Rico, AZ 85648

Manny's Cowboy Burgers

With its casual interior and western-inspired decor, Manny's Cowboy Burgers is a great place for a quick meal. The menu consists mainly of hearty burgers and hot dogs as well as classic greasy-spoon sides.

Type: Hamburgers

Location: 1279 W Frontage Rd, Rio Rico, AZ 85648, United States

Stables Ranch Grille

Looking for fine dining? The Stables Ranch Grille is a good option. With a menu that covers everything from pan-seared trout to bacon-wrapped prawns, it offers something for everyone. Ask for one of the lovely outdoor tables for the best ambiance.

Type: American, Southwestern

Location: 65 Avenida de Otero, Tubac, AZ 85646

Wisdom's Cafe

Enjoy traditional Mexican cooking at Wisdom's Cafe, which offers a coffee shop-style vibe and a friendly staff. This restaurant is known for its fruit burritos, but you can also get soups, salads, and entrees.

Type: Mexican

Location: 1931 I-19 Frontage Rd, Tumacacori, AZ 85640

Shopping

The Artist's Daughter

Step back in time at this old-time western general store, which sells everything from gifts to housewares. Plan some extra time to explore the fascinating interior.

Location: 33 Tubac Rd, Tubac, AZ 85646

8 Otero Street Gallery

Buy gifts and artwork by local artists in this friendly shop.

Location: 8 Cam Otero, Tubac, AZ 85646

Grumpy Gringo Fine Cigars

Stock up on hard-to-find cigars at this fun store, which bills itself as a “daddy daycare.”

Location: 4 Cam Otero, Tubac, AZ 85646

Country Shop

Packed with fun and unique housewares and decor items, this is the perfect spot to find gifts and souvenirs.

Location: Will Rogers Ln, Tubac, AZ 85646

Michelle's Gallery

Plan at least an hour to visit this sprawling shop, which is packed to the brim with unique works of art, decor pieces, and furniture.

Location: 51 Cll Baca, Tubac, AZ 85646

Sightseeing

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve Visitor Center

Learn about the local area and get recommendations for hikes at this friendly center. You’ll also find a nature trail and informative exhibits.

Patagonia Lake State Park

Enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating at this family-friendly park.

Madera Canyon

Hike under sheer rock walls in this canyon, which is popular with birders and hikers.

Temporal Gulch Trail

While it's one of the least-visited trails in the Santa Rita Mountains, it offers excellent backcountry terrain. You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to reach the trailhead.

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How to Get to
Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

If you’re driving to Sonoita Creek State Natural Area in an RV, the easiest option is to take Interstate 19. Then, get on Highway 82 north to head to the park. From Tombstone, simply take Highway 82 west.

Entering Sonoita Creek State Natural Area

The entrance gates for Sonoita Creek State Natural Area entrance are open 4:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, it's open 24 hours a day for campers.

Per vehicle : $15

1-4 Adults

Individual : $3

Primitive hike-in site : $17

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