We stayed at the Cave Creek Ranch and had the opportunity to meet the owner and naturalist Reed Peters. In addition to running Cave Creek Ranch, Reed is President of the Board of Friends of Cave Creek Canyon, and one of the editors of the award winning book Cave Creek Canyon, Revealing the Heart of Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains, a wonderful book with 45 concise chapters, each on a different topic, and each written by a different resident of the area.
We enjoyed our stay at Cave Creek Ranch, and will return this spring when the bird migration is greatest. Below is the Ranch office, and the bird feeding area right in front. If you are in the area, and not staying at the ranch, you can drop by and watch the birds for a $5 fee.
We stayed in one of the stone cabins on the creek, in the middle unit. The end rooms have fireplaces. We had a great kitchen. The sandbags are in case the creek rises!
We stayed two full days, and then left for Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico (next blog post!). Cave Creek runs to the northwest, and has a South Fork. We toured on both. Note that access to the upper sections of the creek by road are limited in winter by snow. Our favorite sites this visit were the Sunny Flat campground off of the North Fork, and a trail off of the South Fork. Both good birding spots. This page on BirdandHike.com has a good summary of the area.
Here are some of the many images I captured during our 2 days in Portal and Cave Creek Canyon
On the road up Cave Creek toward Sunny Flat campground there is parking for a short walk up to a scenic overlook. An easy hike, and great views. The image above from the overlook looking up the canyon.
The canyon is narrow with high rock formations on both sides, reminiscent of Yosemite in California.
There is a nature trail that runs southeast from Sunny Flat along the creek that is great for birding. We walked it two mornings. Earlier is better, starting from Sunny Flat at sunrise. However, it is cold in January. Below a Spotted Towhee.
Morning sun on the Canyon walls.
Ruby-crowned Kinglet at some distance.
Red-naped sapsucker. Not the sharpest image, but a neat bird! In the woodpecker family.
After we toured the Sunny Flats area, we drove up the South Fork road. It ends, and a trail begins, that starts off as a road/creek, with no vehicle traffic. Caught this Canyon Wren sitting on a culvert.
Back to Cave Creek Ranch, the following birds were captured at or near the feeders.
You guessed it, male Cardinal, trying to hide in a tree.
Titmouse, hanging out by a feeder
Pyrrohuloxia at the "all you can eat" suet bar.
Oregon Dark-eyed Junco
That is it for Portal, for now! We will return in April.
Henry Johnson, photographer and author of this site. For more detail, see About