Roper Lake and Dankworth Pond State Parks hold occasional lectures about the history, animals and plant life of the area. These lectures are held at this covered lecture area. Consult the website for any scheduled lectures/programs.
One of the trails at Dankworth Pond State Park, the Dos Arroyos Trail, has interpretive signs explaining how Dankworth Pond came about and some of the terrain in the area. The trail is a little less than 2 miles long. Terrain features include:
Arroyo: An arroyo is a dry desert wash that only has water if there is enough runoff from melting snow in the mountains or during flash floods in monsoon season. An arroyo has a sandy bottom to aid the water in flowing down to the water table where vegetation can make use of it (see Photo 1).
Mesas: A mesa is a flat topped hill. They are formed when ancient lakes laid deposits of sandstone and caliche which hardened. As the lakes receded, the surrounding layers of silt were worn away by arosion leaving these flat formations. (Sorry no photo).
Mesquite Bosques: Mesquite trees are common in the Arizona desert. They have large tap roots that are good for finding the scarce water supplies. They provide food, shade and shelter for area animals and people (see Photo 2).
Riparian Areas: Riparian areas are only found around seasonal streams like this one. This seasonal stream forms in the winter from overflow from the pond and from runoff from mountain snows. Life clings to these small fragile areas (see Photo 3).
Seasonal Wetlands: Seasonal Wetlands also form in this area in the cooler winter months. Wading birds like herons and egrets sometimes winter here and turtles and frogs become active, then bury themselves in the mud during dry periods waiting for the next rain (see Photos 4 and 5).
Dankworth Pond State Park is a subcomponent of Roper Lake State Park. The fishing in the 15 lake surface acres is reported to be better than at Roper Lake. There is a playground for the kids, picnic areas, interpretive signs along the hiking trail and a very nice display showing Native American dwellings from the area throughout history. More details follow.
Your first stop at Roper Lake State Park will be the Visitor's Center where you will pay your fee of $5 for a vehicle with up to 4 adults and where you can get a park brochure and other information about the area.
Another attraction near Safford is the Roper Lake State Park and its annex Dankworth Pond. Roper Lake offers 30 surface acres of water for swimming, boating and fishing. Try it for sailboarding, canoeing or just plain relaxing. After hiking the trails, relax those tired bones in the natural stone hot tub. Enjoy the beauty of the day use island. Catch some of the fish that are regularly stocked in the lake. Make use of one of the three camping areas.
My favorite thing of all at Discovery Park was inside the observatory where they showed the stories of the origin of earth as told by various cultures. I will highlight each story in a travelogue soon.
Also on the grounds of Discovery Parks are the deep pond which offers year-round observation of area wildlife and the shallow pond which is seasonal. Both ponds have short trails to them and bird blinds.
Also near Safford is the Discovery Park. Discovery Park is under the control of the Eastern Arizona University, and is designed to provide educational opportunities to learn about science. There were two main highlights for me. There is a nice deep water pond where you can observe the wildlife, complete with a bird blind. The most interesting thing though was the Gov Aker Observatory. It has a very interesting display showing beliefs from around the world about the formation of the universe, displays on some of the leading scientists from the past like Gallileo and Einstein, information about how telescopes are made and several other displays. Listen to the sounds of the universe as collected by a radio telescope, or experience one of the world's largest Camera Obscuras. The park also has a 20 inch telescope. If you visit on a Saturday they have a simulated ride on a shuttlecraft through the solar system teaching about the other planets, the sun and the asteroid belt.
The Safford Women's Club building was built in the 1920s and was designed by M. H. Strakweather. It is still in use as the Safford Women's Club today. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The George A. Olney House is a fine example of blending the Colonial Revival Style with touches from other styles. It is currently open as a bed and breakfast. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Oddfellow's Home was built around 1900 in the Tudor Revival Style, and was designed by William Bray. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building currently houses a library and a museum.
Another interesting building in the Safford Historic District is the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot. It was built in 1928 using the Spanish Colonial Revival Style and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Safford has a pretty nice Historic District. It is mainly along a 5 block expanse along Main Street. The first stop is the impressive Neo-Colonial brick building housing the Graham County Court House. The court house was built in 1916 at a cost of over $44,000. It still functions as a county office building today. There are 28 total sites on the Safford Historic Tour. The Graham County Court House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Most towns of any size have a Chamber of Commerce which serves as a Welcome Center or Visitor's Center to provide you with tips about what to see in the area, good restaurants and hotels and to help with whatever you need during your visit. Safford has a very nice one.
If you ever been in south-eastern Arizona you know how hot it can get, when I was vacationing there I took my family to the Roper Lake State Park. It has a walking trail, barbeque pits , great picnic sites, a hot tub. It also has nice cabins that you can rent and places to fish and of course the cool lake with great views . it is inexpensive, i think the entrance fee was $4 dollars per car. The water's edge near the island is shallow, perfect for kids to swim, and deepens to about 6 ft. My kids actually learned how to swim there.