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Roper Lake is part of Roper Lake State Park in east-central Arizona. Although Roper Lake covers just 32 acres, its waters invite people of all ages to enjoy the beautiful setting with views of Mount Graham. The pleasant retreat offers an abundance of recreational activities which include swimming, fishing, canoeing, camping, and picnicking.
Roper Lake was developed in the early 1960s as a private recreation area. The Arizona Game and Fish Commission purchased the lake and surrounding land in 1969 with plans to develop the area as a state park. Original plans were to construct a 100-acre lake on the property; however, additional planning found that a larger lake was not feasible. In a cooperative effort among Graham County, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, Roper Lake State Park was opened in 1975.
In 1982, Dankworth Pond was added to Roper Lake State Park and is now used for fishing. Dankworth Pond consists of 15 acres of surface water, and is located about three miles south of Roper Lake. Dankworth Pond was once used as a commercial catfish farm before it was purchased for the State Park. The Pond is now home to waterfowl, migratory birds, and other wildlife. Nature lovers will delight in the scenic views as they walk along the Dos Arroyos Trail which starts at the east end of the pond. Upon completion of the hike, visitors will find a re-created Native American village, which features dwellings and artifacts used by southwestern tribes.
While at Roper Lake visitors can soak away their cares in a natural stone hot tub, sunbathe on the beach, or enjoy a picnic lunch in one of many picnicking areas. Only boats with small electric motors or no motors are permitted on Roper Lake, providing calm waters for anglers who enjoy reeling in stocked trout and bass. Game species in Roper Lake include rainbow trout, largemouth bass, sunfish, and channel catfish. A boat ramp is available in Roper Lake State Park. Additional fishing is available at Dankworth Pond, which is reserved for fishing and is home to bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, and trout.
Guests of Roper Lake may want to take advantage of two nearby national forests which portray the beauty of Arizona at its finest. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, located northeast of Roper Lake, covers two million areas with beautiful mountains and numerous lakes and streams. Tonto National Forest, northwest of the lake, covers almost three million acres and is the fifth largest forest in the United States. Both Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and Tonto National Forest provide additional outdoor sport opportunities which include fishing, camping, hiking, and nature observation. Visitors may spot an abundance of wildlife in addition to a wide variety of vegetation such as Saguaro cactus and pine.
Roper Lake State Park offers three campgrounds (Hacienda, Cottonwood, and Gila), including primitive sites and sites with water and electric hook-ups. Campsites include fire rings, BBQ grills and picnic tables, and most accommodate RVs up to 45 feet. Cabins with heating and air conditioning are also available for guests who prefer more amenities. For visitors who decide to call the area home, real estate is available in nearby Safford and other locales in Graham County. The splendor of the Roper Lake area will captivate all who take time to explore the sights around them.
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