Cowboys, dusty trails, and saloons may not be found in Phoenix these days, but the spirit of the Old West remains alive and well in Cave Creek, Arizona.
Cave Creek is a quirky, diverse town north of Phoenix where you’re just as likely to encounter horseback riders as a gang of bikers on their way to their favorite drinking place on Main Street. It boasts small-town charm and friendly inhabitants who are always glad to provide tourists information about whats going on in town.
If you’re seeking for stunning desert landscape, this is the place to go. Hiking, horseback riding, and golf are just a few of the outdoor activities available in the Sonoran Desert and Tonto National Forest. There are also intriguing boutiques, excellent restaurants, and a plethora of pubs and saloons.
Did you know that Cave Creek used to be a major gold mining town? I’d lived in the neighborhood for twenty years and had no clue until I dived in and began researching. As you’re ready to go on your own adventure, here are twelve fun things to do in Cave Creek. Have a good time!
Are you going to other places in Arizona? See our other guides:
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- 10 Best Restaurants In Salt Lake City
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- 10 Fun Things To Do In Flagstaff, Arizona
- 5 Best Scottsdale AZ Restaurants
- 1 12 Interesting Activities in Cave Creek, Arizona
- 1.1 Dancing and Country and Western Music
- 1.2 Discover the Old West
- 1.3 Visit the Websites
- 1.4 Make Your Own Ice Cream
- 1.5 Petrified wood, crystals, and geodes
- 1.6 Attend a Rodeo
- 1.7 Observe the Stars in the Desert Sky
- 1.8 Tasting of Bourbon and Vodka
- 1.9 Native American Handicrafts
- 1.10 Investigate Local History
- 1.11 Hiking in the Desert
- 1.12 Riding a Horse in the Desert
- 2 Finishing Up Cave Creek Attractions
12 Interesting Activities in Cave Creek, Arizona
Dancing and Country and Western Music
488-19066895 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Saloon Buffalo Chip
488-91186823 E. Cave Creek Rd.
If you like Country Western music and dancing, Cave Creek has numerous Country and Western saloons. The Buffalo Chip and Harrolds are two of the greatest.
Harrolds Wild West Saloon and Restaurant has live music every Wednesday through Sunday and Country Western dance instruction every Friday. On Sundays during football season, it transforms into Heinz Field West, where hundreds of Pittsburgh fans gather to eat, drink, and dance while rooting for the Steelers.
The Buffalo Chip is one of the country’s most genuine dance halls and saloons. True West Magazine awarded it the Best Western Saloon for the previous two years in a row, and Phoenix Magazine named it Best of the Valley for the same period. Tuesday through Sunday, live bands play, and there are free line dancing classes on Tuesdays and Country Western dance instruction for couples on Thursdays. During football season, the Buffalo Chip serves as Badger country on Saturdays for University of Wisconsin supporters and Green Bay Packer headquarters on Sundays.
Harrolds and The Buffalo Chip usually have something going on. Just come up with your jeans, boots, and cowboy hat to join in on the fun.
Discover the Old West
488-91296245 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Frontier Town is one of Arizona’s few real western communities. It existed in Cave Creek before the town was formed, and it has been providing a flavor of the wild west to residents and visitors for almost fifty years.
You’ll be transported back to 1870 as you walk past a boot hill cemetery and gallows, as well as ancient carts and a small church (which is often rented for weddings). On weekends, Arizona Gunfighters, a local stunt group, may recreate legends from the old west such as Wild Bill Hickock and the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
The Cave Creek Mercantile, which sells Southwest curiosities including Prickly Pear sweets and jellies, Suzannes Hot Things, which sells hot sauces, salsas, and flavored olive oils, and Udder Delight Natural Skin Care, which sells natural soaps, lotions, and creams produced from goats milk, line Main Street.
Now put on your cowboy hat, imagine you’re Gene, Roy, or Miss Kitty, and go on a walk across the old west.
Visit the Websites
Rancho Manana Golf Course is located in Rancho Manana, Hawaii.
E. Rancho Manana Blvd. (480) 488-03985734 E. Rancho Manana Blvd.
Consider taking your camera along with your shooting irons if you intend to play a game of golf at Rancho Manana Golf Course. Golfers at Rancho Manana enjoy spectacular high-desert landscapes and, if they’re fortunate, animals like as rabbits, mule deer, owls, roadrunners, and bobcats while driving, chipping, and putting their way through nine or eighteen holes.
Rancho Manana is a par 70 championship course that was just included to the Golf Digestas list. Rating Arizona named it one of the top ten golf courses in Arizona and one of the top 50 in the country for women. It constantly gets favorable feedback since it is a difficult course for all levels of players.
If your golf game isn’t up to par, just relax and enjoy the Southwest experience. The Cave Creek Wash, one of the state’s few surviving riparian regions, is located on the front nine. You may also see Camelback Mountain, Mummy Mountain, Squaw Peak, Elephant Butte, and the stunning Tonto National Forest from here.
Make Your Own Ice Cream
The Creamery in the City
397-11306268 E. Cave Creek Rd.
If you enjoy ice cream (and who doesn’t? ), The City Creamery is a must-visit. It’s conveniently situated across the street from Frontier Town and sells handmade ice cream that’s hand-churned on-site and served in handcrafted waffle cones and bowls. Chocolate lovers will appreciate the handmade hot fudge sauce created from Grandmother Marian’s recipe.
Maddie, the resident mixologist, is an ardent baker who often produces 20 to 30 pumpkin, lemon meringue, or key lime pies, as well as hundreds of loaves of banana bread or batches of oatmeal cookies to smash and blend into ice cream to create unique tastes.
Pistachio Prickly Pear, Double Chocolate and Orange, Green Tea with Ginger Honey, and Coconut with Chocolate Almond were among the unusual tastes on the menu the day I went. I tried a scoop of the Coconut with Chocolate Almond with Grandma’s hot fudge sauce and really loved it.
Petrified wood, crystals, and geodes
Rare Earth Gallery
E. Cave Creek Rd. 480-575-43606401 E. Cave Creek Rd.
The Rare Earth Gallery is a rock shop that might easily be converted into a museum. It is billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” with 9,000 square feet of unusual and exotic geodes, crystals, petrified wood, unique sculptures, carved and polished stone furniture, and a significant fossil and mineral collection.
The president and owner, Wayne Helfand, started working in the open-mining sector at the age of 19 and finally became a qualified gemologist. Having a business like Rare Earth Gallery has always been his dream, and he now travels across the globe six months of the year to acquire treasures like agate geodes from Brazil, malachite sculptures from Congo, copper wall hangings from Michigan, and petrified wood products from his hometown.
The majority of the labor is done by craftsmen, however certain finishing work, such as polishing petrified wood, is done in-house. The crew also conducts all metalworking on-site, as well as unique designs and fabrication of all exhibits and stands.
Some of the pieces cost thousands of dollars, yet there are many things available for less than that. Not interested in purchasing? No issue. Just come to see.
Attend a Rodeo
Rodeo at Cave Creek
480-304-5634 Cave Creek Memorial Arena is located at 37201 N. 28th St.
Cave Creek commemorates its western history every year in late February or early March with Wild West Days, a weeklong celebration that includes a parade, golf tournament, dance, rodeo, and other events.
The main event is a Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Womens Pro Rodeo Association (WPRA) rodeo where cowboys and cowgirls from all over the U.S. and Canada compete to win prize money and gain points that will help them secure a position in the National Finals Rodeo. Each December, the National Finals are held in Las Vegas, and only the top fifteen participants in each event are invited to participate.
The rodeo’s proceeds benefit local charities such as the Desert Cancer Foundation, the Foothills Food Bank, Domestic and Teen Violence Awareness, and the Triple R Horse Rescue. They also help to preserve and improve the Cave Creek Memorial Arena, where the rodeo is place.
Observe the Stars in the Desert Sky
Planetarium Star Barn
firstname.lastname@example.org (480) 488-3952 (leave a message)
Unless you live in Cave Creek, you don’t go to someone’s home to see a planetarium. The Star Barn Planetarium is housed in the home of Ron Walker, an electrical engineer with a childhood interest in astronomy. He made a proposal and won when the Scobee Planetarium at San Antonio College invited bids for a planetarium projector that was a duplicate of the one at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
To commemorate a neighbor and friend who assisted him in rebuilding the projector, he created a 30 dome to shelter Bob. Regrettably, Bob never saw his namesake’s debut concert since he died the day before it was planned.
Bob can recreate around 6,000 stars and the night sky everywhere in the earth, 25,000 years in the past or future. Ron entertains and informs individuals and groups with presentations such as Introduction to the Night Sky and Around the Globe in 80 Minutes. Every year in early November, he transports Bob to the Middle East for his Star of Bethlehem presentation, which runs from mid-November to mid-January.
Gather your friends and family for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view what the sky might look like on a fully clear night at the Star Barn Planetarium.
Tasting of Bourbon and Vodka
Carefree Spirits Distillery
E. Cave Creek Rd. (480) 466-74246201 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Renea and Michael McQuiggan think that high-quality spirits create memorable moments, and that high-quality ingredients generate greater experiences. As a result, they decided to create real and natural handmade premium bourbons and vodkas. The result is the Carefree Spirits Distillery in neighboring Carefree, AZ, as well as a Cave Creek tasting facility.
Their Carefree Bourbon and Chakra Vodka are prepared with exclusive formulations that use all-natural ingredients and extracts.
Carefree Bourbon is made with 75% maize, 21% rye, and 4% malt, as well as water that is strong in calcium but low in sulfur and iron. Water quality is critical since it influences the final weight, texture, and taste of the bourbon. Bourbons are matured in new American Oak barrels for two years, producing a silky combination with undertones of caramel and vanilla.
Chakra Vodka is composed entirely of maize and has no sugar or other ingredients. To assure the greatest taste and texture, it is distilled six times and filtered five times, and only pure, tasteless water is used in the flavoring, mixing, and proofing processes. Chakra is a registered trademark that refers to energy centers in the body.
In a pool of almost 1,000 entries from 45 nations, Carefree Spirits Distillery’s bourbons and vodkas garnered top honours in international tasting contests in 2020 and 2021. Visit their tasting room to find out why.
Native American Handicrafts
Cimarron River Corporation
E. Cave Creek Rd. 620-353-33316710 E. Cave Creek Rd.
Visit the Cimarron River Company if you like real Native American jewelry and Southwestern art.
Connie Miller, the owner and Queen of Acquisitions, buys one-of-a-kind pieces directly from Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi artisans or from sources that produce genuine products. Among the various artifacts on show are vintage ceramics, hand-carved wooden bowls, collectable birds, and Hopi katsina (kachina) dolls.
When tourists approach the shop, they are greeted with a giant kachina doll that is the culmination of two years of meticulous effort. Chester Poleyestewa, a Hopi Master Carver whose work is sought after by collectors worldwide, created it. He exclusively uses natural dyes and mineral paints that he prepares himself, and he is noted for his stunning finishing touches such as eagle feathers, Angora goat hair, and deerskin.
While it may seem that everything at Cimarron River Company is beyond of your price range, many lovely goods are affordable. The shop management, Connie and Billie Casillas, are always delighted to assist clients locate the ideal souvenir or present that won’t break the budget.
Investigate Local History
Cave Creek Museum
E. Skyline Dr. (480) 488-27646140 E. Skyline Dr.
The Cave Creek Museum is the greatest site to learn about the area’s archeology and history, as well as the mining and agricultural enterprises that helped it thrive. There are two wings to explore as well as an exterior display.
The archaeology wing houses objects from four nearby archaeological sites, including pottery and stone tools. The history wing chronicles the history of Cave Creek from 1863, including the gold strike that occurred when miners found rich metals in the surrounding hills and mountains.
The outdoor display includes Cave Creek’s first chapel and a fully operating, ten-stamp crushing mill that crushed ore from the (former) Golden Reef Mine into fine gravel so it could be sorted for gold.
On Saturdays, demonstrations are given, and guests are welcome to spend the day as a miner, panning for gold. On Sundays, the Cave Creek Museum also provides children’s programs where youngsters may learn about minerals, desert flora, and Native American history.
Hiking in the Desert
(602) 506-2930, Ext. 844000, N. Spur Cross Rd.
The Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area is 2,154 acres in size and has hiking routes of varying lengths and difficulty levels. When you stroll through towering saguaro cactussome of which are over 400 years old, you could spot coyotes, mule deer, hawks, rattlesnakes, and tarantulas. Several pathways pass alongside ancient mines, ranches, and Indian ruins.
The Dragonfly Trail is approximately 1.5 miles long and is an intermediate path. It winds through a riparian area along Cave Creek and offers breathtaking vistas. Another intermediate hike, the Tortuga Trail, is approximately 1.2 miles long and brings you to the top of a mesa with great views.
The Spur Cross Trail is a 5.2-mile intermediate walk that takes you past the remnants of the 6L Ranch. If you are interested in archeology, this is an excellent pick since there are numerous petroglyphs along the path that were made hundreds of years ago by the Hohokam people.
Try the Mariposa Hill Path if you want something a little simpler. It’s a half-mile round journey with panoramic views of the conservation area and the surrounding Tonto National Forest. If you go in the spring, you could see a lot of Mariposa Desert Lilies along the route.
Do the 2.1-mile Elephant Mountain Trail if you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge. The terrain is rugged and unmaintained, but the vistas, according to residents, are worth it.
Riding a Horse in the Desert
Arizona Horseback Riding Tours
N. Spur Cross Rd. (480) 488-911744029 N. Spur Cross Rd.
Horseback Adventures at MTM Ranch
N. Spur Cross Rd. (480) 488-453843001 N. Spur Cross Rd.
Hiking isn’t the only method to take in the breathtaking desert environment. It is also visible from horseback. Trail rides at the Spur Cross Conservation Area and Tonto National Forest are available through Arizona Horseback Adventures and MTM Ranch Horseback Adventures.
For beginner cyclists and families with young children, one- and two-hour trips through the Spur Cross Conservation area are excellent. These are on moderately simple scenic routes that are strewn with saguaro cactus and go into canyons with stunning mountain vistas. You may see mule deer, hawks, owls, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and tarantulas if you keep a keen eye on your surroundings.
Longer trips for more experienced riders take you beyond the Cave Creek Riparian regions and into the Tonto National Forest. There are petroglyphs that chronicle the stories of the ancient Hohokam People who used to live in the region, a spring-fed waterfall (in the midst of the desert! ), and an area that is popular with hawks, finches, owls, hummingbirds, and tanagers.
On-site, Arizona Horseback Adventures features an intimate cantina where you can have a barbecue and live entertainment, or relax by a campfire and watch the desert sunset. You may hire the cantina and organize your own cooking and entertainment, or you can let the staff handle everything.
Finishing Up Cave Creek Attractions
Cave Creek is a modern Southwest town with an Old West feel. Golfers, shoppers, Country Western lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and Old West connoisseurs flock here for day trips and weekend getaways.
Cave Creek, like the rest of Arizona, enjoys around 300 days of sunlight each year. You’ll never be bored with intriguing sights, breathtaking landscapes, fantastic shopping, and a wide range of restaurants around.