|Roper Lake State Park|
Roper Lake, at 3,130 feet elevation, is formed by warm water springs and surrounded by mesquite, salt cedar, and paloverde trees. The lake is a major stopover and nesting spot for many migrating birds. At the Dankworth Pond site, follow a self-guided trail. Enjoy an outstanding view of nearby Mo...
Bonita Creek - Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area
|Description: One of only two Riparian National Conservation Areas (RNCA) in the country, Gila Box RNCA is a unique desert oasis with four perennial waterways: the Gila and San Francisco Rivers and Bonita and Eagle Creeks. The area consists of patchy mesquite woodlands, mature cottonwood trees, and buff-colored cliffs. The historic Serna Cabin is located near the confluence of Bonita Creek and the Gila River. Other pioneer cabins, as well as prehistoric Native American ruins, are located throughout the Gila Box RNCA.|
Wildlife to Watch: Bonita Creek has the easiest access and provides a clifftop wildlife- viewing platform. In addition to more than 150 bird species, there are opportunities to view bighorn sheep, beaver, javelina, and mule deer. Mountain lion, black bear, bobcat, and several fox species also inhabit that canyon, but are rarely seen. Birders can see canyon wren, common black-hawk, and ladder-backed woodpecker.
Numerous beaver dams are found along Bonita Creek; five native fish species inhabit the crystal-clear waters of the creek.
Wildlife viewing is good year round. Birding is best during spring and fall migration and the summer nesting season. There is distant viewing of bighorn sheep along the canyon cliffs in the upper canyon and along the Gila River. Look for javelina and Coues white-tailed deer along roads.
Other Activities: A short, paved trail leads from a parking area to a wildlife-viewing platform; sidewalk is wheelchair accessible but has a gentle slope. Safford-Morenci Trail is 21 miles long from Clifton area to Safford area but can be accessed from a road near Bonita Creek and Midnight Canyon; moderate hike. Primitive roads along Bonita Creek also provide hiking access.
Ownership: Bureau of Land Management
Size: 22,500 acres
Closest Town: Safford
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: