Cattail Cove State Park is a state park of Arizona, United States. Located in the Sonoran Desert east and southeast of Tucson near the town of Camp Verde, it was established on July 10, 1945. The park has more than 2 miles (3.2km) of shoreline along Lake Havasu, which provides excellent opportunities for swimming, fishing, camping, bird watching, mountain biking, hiking, and other typical outdoor recreational activities. The park also features an interpretive center open year-round, two boat ramps, and over 200 campsites among its 6,500 acres (26km2). On December 14, 2006, the campground closed indefinitely due to dangerous conditions from advanced levels of heart rot in the cactus plants around the lake. In 2009, the campground reopened with new vegetation. Cattail Cove State Park receives nearly 640,000 visitors annually.
Cattail Cove State Park offers several trails that are accessible by foot or bike; these include the Shoreline Trail, which runs along the lake, and the Inner Canyon trail, which passes through the park’s main canyon. Other trails within the park can be accessed via the Sky Island Recreation Area parking lot, including the Pima Point Natural Preserve trailhead, which leads out onto the tip of North Mountain. There are numerous campsites at Cattail Cove State Park, ranging from full hookup RV sites to tent only sites. Modern restrooms facilities with showers are provided throughout the campground. Camping season begins with trout season in mid-April and ends at the conclusion of deer season in late December.
A modern group shelter facility is available during the summer months. Interpretive displays and information kiosks are scattered throughout the park, providing historical and natural history information. Visitors will find ample wildlife both inside and outside the park as well as mountain scenery that changes daily. Cattail Cove State Park is home to many species of lizards and snakes, most of which are nonvenomous. Rattlesnakes, however, live in this region and there is significant danger of them biting if provoked. Biting insects such as mosquitoes and ticks cause some discomfort during the spring and fall, but their presence is minimal compared to the risk of encountering a snake. Mammals commonly found in this park include mule deer, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, jackrabbits, cottontails, kit foxes, bobcats, coyotes, and badgers. Year-round waterfowl, shorebirds, herons, ducks, geese, and gulls may be observed in winter when snow cover allows. Rare birds seen here include golden eagles, owls, red-tailed hawks, black vultures, turkey vultures, northern flickers, common loons, American white pelicans, trumpeter swans, bald eagles, ospreys, and red-shouldered hawks.
Humorously, one rarely sees groundhogs in this park because they don’t survive the winters. Cattail Cove State Park is located in southern Arizona approximately 35 miles (56km) east of Tucson, 9 miles (14km) south of Camp Verde, and 5 miles (8.0km) north of Benson. It borders Lake Havasu and is bordered by mountains on three sides, with the fourth side being formed by the desert landscape consisting primarily of scrubby hillsides covered in cacti and sparsely populated by even sparser vegetation. This type of environment creates a transition zone between heavily forested regions to the west and those dominated by shrub land to the east. The park contains six developed areas separated by substantial amounts of undeveloped territory. These include the campground, day use area, equestrian area, picnic area, visitor center, and nature center.
The campground opens on Memorial Day weekend and closes Labor Day weekend. Tent sites are available all year long, while trailer site availability varies depending on the time of year. Half of the campsites are available for self-registration on a first come first served basis, while the remainder require reservations. Reservations can be made online through the park reservation system, or by phone. Camping costs range from $10 per night for a regular site to $16 per night for a premium site. Group shelters hold up to 50 people and have amenities such as electricity and running water. They are available on a first come first serve basis, without reservations. Picnic tables are spread throughout the day use area, which includes grassy yard areas, paved roadways, and lighted parking lots. No drinking water is available in this area, so users should bring their own. Water fountains are provided at the nearby visitor center. An enclosed equestrian staging area consists of concrete pad platforms and railings surrounding a 0.5 mile (0.80km) loop trail where riders can warm up prior to riding the 1/4 mile (.6km) loop trail around the lake.
Riddeno Stables manages the horses used in this area. All other horseback riding takes place on designated trails. Riders must register and follow the rules and regulations of Riddledo Stables. Horses brought in by themselves or groups are not permitted in the park. Only riding stables registered with any state agency are allowed to provide rides within the park. Boat ramps are provided at both the north and south ends of the lake. Fish cleaning stations are provided at the north end. Access to the beach is provided at the South End. Fishing licenses are required and are issued by the Arizona Department of Parks and Recreation. Common game fish include crappie, bass, catfish, perch, and sunfish. Snowmobiling is popular in this part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and White Rock Mountain is topped by the Donut Peak Ski Resort. The park is utilized as a base for skiers and snowboarders who venture out into the local terrain. Hiking is another activity enjoyed in this park.
Numerous trails exist in the park, each offering varying degrees of difficulty. Popular trails include the Shoreline Trail, which follows the lakeshore, and the Circle Trail, which makes a half circle tour of the park. Bike trails are maintained in certain sections of the park, though they vary somewhat in quality. For example, the River Corridor section of the park has very sandy soil that requires a great deal of care in order to maintain a usable surface. Mountain biking is prohibited on this section of the park.
Except for the posted signs, the entire park is open to hunting. Deer and wild turkey may be taken with a bow and arrow, while small game animals like quail, chukar parts, pheasant, and rabbits may be hunted legally with a rifle or shotgun. Game animal heads may not be taken. The primary hunting seasons are specified by the states of California and Arizona. California specifies big game hunting in specific areas of the park, while Arizona permits general hunting throughout much of the park. Both states prohibit taking groundhogs. During the off-season, portions of the park may remain open to hunting, especially the day use area, though no hunting is permitted in the campground or on the trails.