Living in Cave Creek & Carefree, Arizona
The adjacent, tranquil desert towns of Cave Creek and Carefree are located only a short distance from Phoenix and North Scottsdale and offer unique charm to all who visit or reside within. They offer spectacular scenery and high quality attractions that bring both seasonal visitors and homebuyers alike, from all over the US.
Cave Creek is twenty-seven miles northeast of Phoenix with a population of around 5000 people.
Also situated north of Phoenix in the mountain foothills, Carefree is approximately 8 miles further north and has a smaller population of around 3500 and offers an even more tranquil setting.
This wonderful town measures only around nine square miles, and is described by its name perfectly. The first time I visited Carefree I was struck by just how laid back and relaxed it can be.
Carefree was originally a planned community, initiated in the 1950s by the famous Tom Darlington and his partners, who began building homes in 1958. Since its inception, the areas popularity has grown and is highly desirable for its tranquility, natural beauty and an atmosphere that is truly unique.
The street names such as Easy Street and Tranquil Trail, say it all. Carefree enjoys slightly cooler temperatures than Cave Creek and Phoenix as it is considered the high desert with an elevation of 2300ft and is surrounded by some absolutely beautiful mountain ranges.
Carefree Studios, Arizona
Carefree as a town has several claims to fame including being the former home to Southwestern Film Studios, which dates back to 1968. This studio went through several incarnations and later changed its name to the Carefree Studios.
It has a rich cinematic history and was responsible for the production of several well-known films and hosted big name stars such as Paul Newman, Bob Hope, Bill Cosby and Dick Van Dyke.
One of the last films to be made there was early in the career of Keanu Reeves – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
The Carefree studio remained open until 1999 when the 47 acre site was sold for retail and residential re-development and now called “The Summit.” The area is now a thriving retail and residential area with several very popular communities and a pleasant well appointed retail area.
The Boulders Resort and Spa, Carefree, Az
Carefree has become synonymous with the world famous golf and hotel resort which offers its residents high quality hotel facilities with a sophisticated Western style, valet parking, several forms of high end accommodation including suites, beautifully appointed rooms and villas.
This beautiful location offers two world class golf courses situated among the Sonoran Desert foothills and is a must see, for golfers and visitors alike.
As you would expect in a residence of this caliber, leisure facilities are abundant with four pools, a fitness center and tennis courts.
Also on offer is a wonderful 32,000 sq.ft spa facility that is available at the Boulders Resort, just off Tom Darlington Blvd.
The area is rich in history and so called, because of the ancient boulder formations which date back some 12 million years. These rock formations are an inspiring addition to the already beautiful desert landscape, which is rich with wildlife and flora.
Old Town Scottsdale and Scottsdale Fashion Square is within 20 miles and Downtown Phoenix can be easily reached by car within 30 miles or 45 minutes drive.
The Sundial, Carefree, Arizona
The large steel and copper sundial installed in 1959 is situated in the center of Carefree has become one of the town’s most well-known landmarks.
Standing at 35ft high, it was designed by Joe Wong, an architect and engineer John Yellott and is the third largest sundial in the Western world. This impressive structure, points at the North Star and measures 90 feet in diameter and casts a shadow in excess of 70ft long, denoting the time of day.
Cave Creek – A Modern Take on the Old West
Cave Creek by contrast is slightly closer to Phoenix being around 25 minutes by car and offers more in the way of old style Wild West charm, combined with semi urban living.
The Cave Creek town itself offers some great, fun places to eat and soak in the relaxed Wild West atmosphere. The area is an old frontier town and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to relaxed and informal entertainment and places to eat.
Harolds’ Saloon which dates back to the 1930s is always popular and attracts a great number of visitors especially at weekends. There are also a great number of good restaurants offering every type of cuisine from BBQ cookouts at the Buffalo Chip which hosts regular events to fine foods and fusion oriental. The El Encanto restaurant is cantered around a beautiful feature duck pond and has a long history in the town, offers superb Mexican food and a great atmosphere. The Horny Toad is also famed for its fried chicken wings and many other locations are dotted along Cave Creek’s main thoroughfare.
You will also notice specialist Western stores, galleries and stores selling some of the most unusual art, pottery, rustic metal and wooden antique sculptures available. One very well-known and long established curio store is amusingly named “The Town Dump “which adds to the great wild West atmosphere, you will not find anywhere else.
Located just off the main road entering Cave Creek is the Stagecoach Village which is a commercial and shopping area modelled on a Western cowboy town. This was constructed just before the market crash of 2007 and was left largely unused until a few years ago, with just a handful of stores and offices taking residence. As the property market has significantly improved, the occupancy has now increased and the area is now much more active. If you love the idea of a modern day Wild West town, this is a great place to establish your office base.
If Golf is your passion, you will not be disappointed as the town itself and the local area has several beautiful, well manicured golf courses many with outstanding views. Situated along the Cave Creek Road which runs through the town, is the entrance to Rancho Manana Golf Club and the Tonto Bar and Grill.
This busy, popular grill has an excellent reputation and appears almost always active with visitors and residents. The golf club is located within a very pleasant high end residential community, with all the attendant facilities you would expect such as a spa and leisure facilities.
Homes are often situated backing onto the fairways and greens and are very popular as rental homes for golf enthusiasts wanting to soak up the amazing mountainous scenery and incredible weather. The town is served by one or two realtors that specialize in Cave creek homes for sale and those in neighboring Carefree. There are other notable courses including nearby Dove Valley Ranch and Legend Trails Golf Club.
While the summer season is very warm indeed, with temperatures well over 100F often for weeks on end, the fall, winter and spring seasons bring a great deal of visitors to the area who wish to take advantage of the numerous outdoor activities and stunning desert landscapes.
Cave Creek, Carefree and the nearby conservation area of Spur Cross is also very popular for mountain biking, horse riding and especially hiking with some of the best trails and routes around Phoenix. These commonly start on the desert floor and can end up in the heights of surrounding mountain ranges and give the most spectacular views across the valley.
The former Spur Cross Ranch, was a historic feature, comprising of a guest ranch dating back to the 1920s.
Today, its 2000 plus acres acts as entrance to the Tonto National Forest’s and many trails and archaeology sites, offering exceptionally beautiful wild flowers and other flora and fauna.