Patagonia Lake

PATAGONIA LAKE STATE PARK (ARIZONA HIGHWAY TV) -- Just a couple hours south of Tucson, you can bird watch, rent a boat, even take a twilight cruise.

Don't let the dirt trails and cactus fool you. There really is water over "Them, there hills."

"When people come here the first time, they just are blown away by how beautiful it is, being so close to Tucson and the desert area," Candy Bowen, a spokeswoman for Patagonia Lake State Park, said. "A lot of people call it the hidden gem of southern Arizona."

"The lake is actually 265 surface acres, which is about 2 1/2 miles long," Bowen continued.

[WATCH: You can bird watch, rent a boat or take a twilight cruise at Patagonia Lake]

Surrounded by the Santa Rita and Patagonia mountains, Patagonia lake is man-made, created by the dam built over Sonoita Creek.

Patagonia Lake

"We're one of the largest bodies of water, we actually are the largest body of water in the southeast within the next 100 miles that actually allows water skiing, wakeboarding and tubing," Bowen explained. "Half of the lake is a 'no wake zone,' which makes it really nice for fishing, kayaking and canoeing."

And it's prime fishing conditions, even for the wildlife, whether you prefer people power, horse power or wind power.

Patagonia Lake

"That bridge is so awkward to walk because it was intended to allow sailboats through," Patrick Rhodes of Patagonia State Park said.

Patagonia Lake State Park has plenty of options and amenities.

"We have 120 campsites," Bowen said. "One  hundred five of those actually have electric and water, so most of our campsites are available for trailers and RVs, or if you just want to charge your cell phones, just to make it more comfortable."

And having electricity means, you can plug in your hair dryer!

"Our shower houses - we have one on both sides of the lake, the east and the west side --  and each of those has hot water running showers. Not just the push-button kind, but the kind you can turn on and take a nice, long, warm shower, which is very nice when you've been camping all day," Bowen said.

The comforts of home, right on the waterfront.

But even though you're miles away from the city, you can still run into a traffic jam. But it's the kind of gridlock you won't mind sitting around, waiting to clear.

Patagonia Lake

"Two weekends ago, when we came out, there were eight great blue herons in this last cottonwood tree over here," Rhodes said as he looked through his binoculars. "Yup, there's a great blue heron on the left hand side of that tree, sitting on a nest. First one that I've heard of in the park."


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