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Roper Lake State Park
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mini location map2012-04-25
6 by photographer avataroutdoor_lover
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Roper Lake State ParkTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Car Camping avatar Apr 25 2012
Car Camping
Car Camping7 Days         
7 Days       Break
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
I was long overdue for a vacation, and everything aligned just right to head down to Safford. Over 10 years ago, I had worked a very long road project in Safford and had learned quite a bit about the area that I didn't know. I had driven up the Swift Trail exploring a couple of times, but it was winter, so couldn't go very far. I wasn't into hiking then like I am now, but I knew even back then, that this was an area that I wanted to return to someday.

After I joined this Site and started seeing Triplogs of that area, it just firmed up my resolve to return, and things fell into place for me to do so this last week. I got ahold of AZWaterRat, the local HAZer, for some hiking ideas, and it worked out perfectly that he was able to join me for the Hikes and be my own personal Tour Guide... :y:

Roper Lake State Park became the destination to stay, the Cabins there were reasonable, it seemed like a really cool place with lots of Wildlife and I could even get some Fishing in... The Cabins are sleeping cabins, they are small, but cozy, with 2 rooms of beds. There is no kitchen or bathroom, and unless you bring a camping stove, your cooking alternatives are over a charcoal grill or the fire pit, which worked out just fine. The Park has community bathrooms and hot showers available in the Campground, so I was set. :)

The timing for this Trip couldn't have been better, as my sister and her family were flying in from Washington State in a few hours, for a weeklong visit. Somehow, the thought of 10 people in that house for a week was just a bit too much. :o So I packed up my camping, fishing and hiking gear and got the heck out of Dodge!!! :GB:

Day 1 - Before I even left the house, I tried very hard to sabotage the whole thing by taking a bad fall an hour before leaving. Somehow, I escaped "serious" injury, and managed to get on the road a little battered and bruised. Enjoyed the drive immensely except for one little bummer spot descending into Globe. I haven't been past Superior on this highway in years and forgot what a gorgeous drive it is, even through the Reservation....

Got to Roper Lake State Park and settled in at the Cabin. The views from the Cabin were excellent and I knew I was really going to enjoy this. AZWaterRat (Chad) joined me a couple of hours later to go over some Hikes. Before we did that, he took me on a Hiking Tour of the Lake and it was very cool! Got back to the Cabin after sunset and started planning for the next day.

It's now pitch black outside, but very peaceful. As Chad and I were talking, I noticed something moving just off the patio. We turned our lights on it and it was a Raccoon! It didn't seem to have much fear of people, as the only time it would retreat was when we turned the light on it. It had one bad eye, probably from some type of old injury, but was pretty good sized. I got the feeling that it was used to people, probably due to being fed by campers in the campground. I'm sure the way it was acting, that it definitely associated people with food...

We had a great time trying to get pictures of it. It was very dark, so we couldn't see it to take pictures of it unless we located it with a flashlight first. It was pretty bold, and at one point when I was on the ground, it literally walked up and sniffed my knee. It was incredible, with still more to come...

After what seemed like a 30 minute photo session, all of the sudden, we started seeing more "eyes" in the darkness. Pretty soon, there were at least 7 more Raccoons trying to look "cute". The original Raccoon didn't seem too happy to see them and if they got to close to him, he would attack them. Don't know if the injured eye was causing some "space" issues or what, but things would get tense momentarily. I can't even tell you how many pictures we took, but it was alot, and we were laughing at our unbelievable good luck the whole time. Because we weren't "chasing" them away, they got bolder and bolder as time went on, and it got to where we were getting nervous, so we finally shooed them away.

As the week wore on, it was apparent that they had a routine at night, as we would see lights from neighboring campsites, telling us that the my site was not the only one they were visiting...But we also discovered that their "Den" was right outside my Cabin, in the Cattails on the Lake....There appeared to be a few adults and several juveniles living there.

After wearing myself out laughing at both the Raccoons and Chad, we cemented our plans for the morning and I turned in...Great ending to a trying day and perfect start to a nice vacation.....

Day 2 - Woke up to an incredible Sunrise over the Lake. I must have taken 50 pictures that morning before Chad showed up to go hiking....

Did an awesome Hike today with Chad and then raced into town and met Nick at the Cabin, to go do another Hike... :D Nick had time to go do a short Hike with us after work, so off we went....Did an awesome Water Hike and I could tell that both Chad and Nick enjoy Water Hikes as much as I do. It was really nice to meet you Nick, and look forward to joining you again for a Hike in the future. Had a great time and got back to the cars just before dusk. Said our goodbyes to Nick and headed down the mountain back to the Cabin. Barbecued some awesome Ribeyes on the grill and then did another awesome Photo shoot with our Raccoon friends and laughed some more....

Day 3- Chad shows up to go hiking in the morning, but I had business to attend to first. My original plan had been to stay 3 nights and go home Saturday afternoon. But this was turning into a very good trip and I knew that I wouldn't be ready to go home tomorrow, so we stopped by the office and I reserved a dry camping spot for two more nights and the Cabin for the last night, so I wasn't going to leave now until Tuesday afternoon. I didn't have a tent, but my Escape has a fairly large cargo area for it's size, so I knew I could sleep out of the car for a couple of nights....The adventure was going to continue.... :D

Went way up into the Pinalenos this time for a couple of hikes. First time up this far in years and it was as cool as I remembered. Got to go much farther up into the Range than I had been previously too, so it was pretty cool. :) I was kind of surprised that other than shortness of breath and swollen hands, I did pretty good at 10,000 feet. I'm not sure that I have ever been that high, other than driving through some Colorado Passes years ago....

The Hikes were awesome and then we stopped in another area not far from our last Hike for some evening pics and to see if we could spot any Wildlife. And we did....Got some great pics, and drove down the mountain in the dark, spotting a Deer by the road on the way down.

Got back to the Cabin well after dark and absolutely beat. Still stayed up too late, chatting and planning the next couple of days with Chad, although, we were in agreement that tomorrow was going to be a day off from hiking. We had done 4 Hikes in two days and our bodies were starting to really protest....No Raccoon visits tonight, but I think they were doing the "Rounds" as the campground was filling up and we saw alot of flashlights shining around. Finally hit the sack and was virtually unconscious...

Day 4 - Day off from Hiking, so slept in a little and then just hung out at the Cabin for awhile, enjoying the morning. Got my gear thrown in the car, and moved about 50 feet to a dry camping site for the next couple of days. It had a Waterfront as well and a nice Ramada, so I had some shade, as it was pretty warm during the day. Was just a bum for most of the day, just enjoying the local Wildlife around camp. It stayed pretty warm during the day so wasn't doing much, although I did do a run for ice.

As the day wore on, the sun became a little more tolerable, so I knew it was time to try my luck at Bass Fishing. This Lake has a pretty good reputation for Bass so I was really looking forward to it and it was going to be the first time I've gotten a line in the Water in several years. I had kind of scoped out the Lake when Chad and I had Hiked it earlier in the week, so knew the areas that I wanted to try.

Drove the car around and decided to try a small point area on the other side of the Peninsula. Had been fishing for about a half hour without any luck when Chad called. He was at the Park for his daily Hike and wanted to see what I was up to. He came on over to where I was and visited while I fished. About 10 minutes after he showed up, I had a fish on, and it was a good one! Unfortunately, I only got it about halfway in, when it jumped and the line broke. I had set my drag fairly loosely as I was only fishing with 8lb test, but for this fish, apparently it was not loose enough! Chad and I about fell over when the fish came out of the water. It looked to be about an 8 pound Largemouth..... :o :( Thanks to Chad for being there as a witness or people would not believe me.... :D

Got rigged up again and worked the area some more. Some of Chad's friends were also fishing the area, so he went to visit nearby. After about 20 minutes, he returned and within minutes I got another hit. Chad must be some kind of fishing good luck charm or something. :lol: I could tell that this was going to be a good fish too, as the drag was singing a little. I was praying that I didn't lose this one, but he was putting up quite the fight and it took me a few minutes to get him in. By then, Chad's friends had come over to watch, so I had an audience.... :sweat: The Bass came out of the water once and I was afraid he was going to spit the hook out at me, but somehow I kept him on and managed to keep him from jumping again. He was not as big as the one that "got away", but he was still a good size! I finally managed to reel him up on the sand and he was a nice! Didn't care if I caught another fish all trip, this one battle made the trip! :y:

Finally got the hook out as he had unsuccessfully tried to swallow it, and got a couple of pics, (thanks Chad). Got the fish revived and watched him swim happily away to live another day..... :D

Didn't get another bite after that, but didn't care, had a great time. It felt good to be out fishing again after a long hiatus. Tried another area on the Peninsula before calling it a day and heading back to camp. Chad and I did some planning for the next day after I grilled some burgers and then I happily hit the sack dreaming of catching another Hawg.....

Day 5 - Woke up late and had to hurry so Chad didn't have to wait too long. We drove all of the way to Riggs Lake at the end of the Swift Trail, after a few "Scenic" stops, and started our day of Hiking there. Did a couple of Hikes that were absolutely incredible. What an awesome day it was!!!! Drove down the mountain in the late afternoon light, but didn't spot any Wildlife on the drive down today.

Got back to camp and barbecued some Hamburgers for us and had a nice campfire. We decided that tomorrow was going to be a nonhiking day and I was going to probably get some more fishing in. :) Turned in late after laughing my pumpkin off at some of Chad's stories. He's a great storyteller and even if the story itself isn't all that humorous, he finds a way to tell it to where you can't help but laugh yourself silly....I haven't laughed this hard since Hiking with trishness last fall, but this was becoming an ongoing, continuous event. It is always such great therapy for the soul.... :)

Day 6 - Woke up super early, just after "safe" light. Thought about going back to sleep, but then decided to just walk the 30 feet down to the opening in the Cattails and the Cove that my Campsite was on and throw out a Top Water Lure, just to see if there was any action going on. Second cast, about 10 feet from the shore, the Lure disappears and I catch a small Largemouth. He was under a pound, but it was fun and an eye opener. Love catching fish on Top Water! Cast a few more times, but didn't get anything else biting there. But now I'm thinking that I need to go fish a little bit more and see if there's anymore action going on elsewhere. So I get dressed and head down the shoreline...

Fished for about an hour and a half with no more luck, so returned to the Campsite and took a nap. Got up and packed up and moved back into the Cabin I was in before. Was instantly visited by the resident Red-Winged Blackbird and two Ducks that seem to really like that particular Cabin area. The Ducks vacuumed up the crumbs from my sandwich and then proceeded to take a nap at my feet. :) Got settled back in to the Cabin and hung out for awhile, waiting for the weather to cool down just a tad. Later in the afternoon, did an ice run, bought a memory card for the camera, since mine had maxxed out yesterday at the end of our hike. :o Came back and went swimming in the Lake at the swimming Beach and then went back to the spot where I had caught the Largemouth on Saturday, to try my luck again. Fished for awhile with no luck, and then Chad called and said he was going to bring some Pizza out.

Met Chad at the Cabin about 30 minutes later and we decided that we could get one more Hike in tomorrow, before I left, so we did some planning for that. After it got dark, the Raccoons must have smelled the Pizza and in they came. Plus, being it was Monday night, I was one of very few campers left in the Gila Campground, so I guess I got their attention by default... :lol: So after snapping off some more pictures of their visit and finally discovering where their Den was, about 50 feet from my patio in the cattails, we called it a day.

Day 7 - Got a little bit of a late start since I didn't plan enough time to get my gear packed up and in the car, since I had to check out that morning. But Chad was nice about it and I actually learned a couple of things about packing from him that I didn't know, so it worked out great. Got checked out and headed up the Mountain just a little ways. Chad had picked out another very cool Water Hike and I was once again in heaven. Thank Goodness I bought another Memory Card for the Camera!!! Probably bad luck for all of you... :sweat:

After the Hike, we kicked back at a nice campground and looked over the Hikes we had done while I was here and Chad gave me the stats, in case I posted before he did. I knew that it would be awhile before I got the Photos posted since I had taken so many, surprise, surprise! :D

Chad was an awesome Hiking Partner and very compatible to my speed and "style" of Hiking. He is an avid Photographer, so in addition to the very cool Hikes he took me on, I also learned quite a bit about picture taking. This Trip turned out to be more than I could have possibly asked for and was just what I needed! Lots of incredibly cool Hikes, good company and laughter that never seemed to stop. Met two new HAZers and just really had loads of fun! Thanks Chad, for all of the planning you did for the Hikes, for taking so much time out to even just visit, and for all of the entertainment thrown in. You made an awesome Trip even better and I will return to do it again. Maybe not for a week, but weekends are definitely in the cards!!! :y: What a beautiful area, it was as good and better than I remembered and I am so glad that I returned to see it up close and personal....

We said our goodbyes and I took off for Phoenix. Got out of Superior in time to catch an awesome Sunset just on the Phoenix side of Gonzales Pass. Of course, you would think I would be totally photographed out, but no, :sweat: I pulled over and took a few shots. I'll post those on a different Log later. Got into town with no incidents and arrived home to a chaotic nine person household. :sweat: But it was all good, because I had taken the time to recharge the Soul and was prepared for the onslaught.... :D

It was an amAZing Week!!! :y:
Named place
Named place
Roper Lake
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Roper Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
Roper Lake State ParkTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 25 2012
Hiking1.50 Miles 100 AEG
Hiking1.50 Miles   1 Hour      3.00 mph
100 ft AEG      30 Mns Break2 LBS Pack
 no routes
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners partners
Car Camping at Roper Lake State Park. 1st Hike of the Trip was a walking Tour of Roper Lake by the local HAZ resident, AZWaterRat. He has pretty much sewn up the title of "expert" when it comes to this Park and it's Wild Residents...(Wildlife, not people, ok maybe people too, :D )

He showed up in the late part of afternoon and we were hoping with the clouds that we had, that we might get to see a good Sunset tonight. We started out from the Cabin and he took me on a Nature Trail around part of the Lake which was pretty cool. We crossed several little Springfed Streams that run into the Lake. Tons of Quail, Cottontails and Lizards galore. Lots of different Birds in the area also, including Cardinals, Tanagers, Swifts, Blackbirds, Grackles, and all of the Waterfowl and Shorebirds. It was a very good representation of a good Riparian area.

We went out on the Peninsula to look for the Owls. Chad showed me where the female Great Horned Owl was nesting, but she was smart when she built this year and the nest is out of sight. We looked for the male, but couldn't find him. Chad was a little bummed as he really wanted me to see him, but of course, Murphy's Law appeared to be in effect.... :?

The Sun was starting to set, so we stayed out on the Peninsula for a bit to see if we could get any good pics, but although it had looked promising at first, the Cloud deck proved to be too thick at the actual horizon. So we couldn't get the dramatic reds and oranges that we were hoping for and left shortly after to finish our circle of the Lake.

Chad had a good pace going and I thought I did pretty good with matching his pace and was hopeful that the Hikes we were planning for the next couple of days would go as well for me and that we would be fairly compatible as far as pace. Hard to tell on the fairly level ground, as I'm generally a pretty fast walker...Fingers would stay crossed for the next couple of days.... :sweat:

Finished up the Loop around the Lake right at dark. Very nice, easy, scenic Hike with lots to see and having my own Personal Tour Guide, with loads of information about the Park, was a definite bonus!!! Great warmup and leg stretcher for the Trips to come! :D
Named place
Named place
Roper Lake
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water 4 out of 5 Roper Lake 76-100% full 76-100% full
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
HAZ Member
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