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Camping at Riggs Lake Campground

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Overview

Riggs Lake Campground is located within the Coronado National Forest in Arizona and is situated at an elevation of about 9,000 feet above sea level in the Pinaleño Mountains. The lake itself is named after Thomas Riggs, who managed to create this man-made lake by damming a series of spring-fed wet meadows. The area is particularly known for its cool, refreshing climate during the summer months, offering a respite from the heat of the surrounding desert regions.

Access and Location

Riggs Lake Campground can be reached most directly by taking the Swift Trail Parkway (Highway 366) in southeastern Arizona. This road, also known as Mount Graham Scenic Byway, climbs up the slopes of Mount Graham as it leads to the lake. Be aware that the road incorporates steep, narrow and winding segments which may not be suitable for larger RVs or trailers.

Camping and Facilities

The campground offers numerous single-family campsites equipped with picnic tables and campfire rings with grills. Some of the amenities you can expect at Riggs Lake Campground include:

  • Restroom facilities (vault toilets)
  • Drinking water access
  • Boat ramp for small boats
  • Campsites are usually available on a first-come, first-served basis

Please note that there are no utility hookups, and during certain times of the year, even water may not be available, so arriving prepared is critical.

Activities

  • Fishing: Riggs Lake is stocked with trout from late spring through summer, offering great opportunities for anglers.
  • Boating: While motorized boats are allowed, they must comply with an 8 mph speed limit to maintain the serene environment.
  • Hiking: Numerous hiking trails are accessible in the surrounding wilderness, including the round trip to the summit of Mount Graham.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The forest is renowned for its rich biodiversity, with multiple species of birds, mammals, and insects to observe.

Operating Times and Seasons

Riggs Lake Campground is generally open from mid-April through mid-November, weather permitting. Access during the winter months may be limited due to snowfall, with road closures common.

Fees and Reservations

Campground fees are charged and may vary depending on the latest forest service regulations. Because sites are usually first-come, first-served, it is recommended to arrive early to secure a spot, especially during peak weekends and holidays. Occasionally, reservations may be available for group sites.

Rules and Regulations

  • Pets are typically allowed but must be kept on a leash.
  • Follow the principles of "Leave No Trace" to minimize the environmental impact.
  • Be mindful of fire restrictions, which are common due to the wildfire risk in the region.
  • Special licenses and permits may be required for fishing.
  • Pack out all trash as dumpster facilities may be limited.

Preparation Tips

When planning a trip to Riggs Lake Campground, be sure to check current weather conditions and road closures. The high elevation means that weather can change quickly and can be significantly cooler than in the valleys below. Be sure to bring:

  • Adequate clothing and gear for cold and possibly wet weather
  • Extra food and water in case of emergencies
  • A valid fishing license if you plan to fish
  • Sun protection due to the higher UV exposure at altitude

For the most up-to-date information and any alerts, check with the Coronado National Forest's official channels or local ranger districts before heading out.

Location of Riggs Lake Campground
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