Tag Archives: southwest

Roper Lake State Park

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I’m trying to choose things that purposely take me out of my psychological comfort zone.  There is no reason for this other than… well there is no reason. I just have problems…plural. So,  to start my new challenge I decided to take a trip – and for the first time actually pay to camp in a campground. This means I will be going against all my personal camping morals, my disdain for rules,  noise, signs,  crowds, the smell of outhouse, asphalt, concrete,  and generators – oh, and I’m paying a daily fee to partake in this.  Stupid right?  BLM, State Trust,  National Forest all free, and here I am paying per night for what exactly? I have never once paid to camp in all of my 38 years.  I’ve camped more nights per year than most of my immediate friends and family combined, so I’m telling you,  in my opinion it’s asinine to pay for camping.

So why am I doing this?  Honestly I’m trying to figure out why so many people I meet and have worked with stay in campgrounds.  I’m not a confrontational,  nor opinionated conversation, however the stuff that I’m thinking in my head while listening to the “crazy fun fun campground stories” would be a mixed sequel to Fear and Loathing and Pulp Fiction. I just don’t get it.

I insisted that it had to be during the week,  and far away from any popular major crowded city locations. After much research and online recommendations I picked Roper Lake State Park,  located in South Eastern Arizona near the City of Safford.

I tried the online reservation system that the Arizona State Parks website offers and much to my surprise it was actually very well designed and extremely user friendly.  I picked a non-electric site for $15 per night versus the $25 electric sites. I checked the temperature for all of the overnight stays I had planned, and decided it would be safe that no generators or roof top a/c units would be utilized.  I selected site #46 of the Gila campground due to the appearance of possibly being right against the lake shore, upon arrival I was correct. This was the view directly in front of the campsite.

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Roper Lake State Park was actually a neat experience overall.  The staff at the check-in gate house were so pleasant to deal with.  The remaining staff were constantly tending to the needs of the campers,  sites,  and facilities.  The only downsides were their use of noisy UTV vehicles.  The constant roar of these carts echoed throughout what would have been very quiet, tranquil afternoon(s). We took the opportunity for a few mountain bike rides on the inner park trail system,  and quite a few walks throughout the paved campgrounds.  The majority of campers appeared to be full-time RV travelers. 

Storms rolled in nightly by 6-7 PM.  Pictured here is the typical storms building over Mt. Graham throughout the day,  finally pushing over and into camp.

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The lake is stocked regularly with bass, crappie, catfish, and seasonal trout.  You can fish anywhere along the shoreline,  or visit the dedicated fishing dock.

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Overall,  we had a really good time.  I can’t see us doing it ever again.  I’m not cheap,  I just cannot see the logic in my style of camping to pay a fee and be next to all kinds of rigs, vehicles and roadways.  The most important thing I took from this trip is understanding.  I now understand how it is possible for my friends and coworkers to have a great time at the right campground.

Here are a few more photographs from the trip.

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