Local lore: Cave Creek

While Carefree and Cave Creek are often synonymous, Cave Creek was established first, before Arizona was declared a state. Carefree came later.

Offering scenic views of Black Mountain, this foothills town is 28.2 square miles. Established along “the Military Road,” a trail between Camp McDowell and Fort Whipple, Cave Creek earned its moniker when cavalry soldiers noticed a large cave butting up to the creek and stopped to drink, marvel, and rest.

The town maintains its Old West persona and offers something for locals and tourists alike, including legendary Harold’s Corral restaurant. Originally opened by Johnny Walker as the Corral Bar in 1935 to quench the thirst of workers constructing Bartlett Dam. It became Harold’s Cave Creek Corral in 1950 when flamboyant local Harold Gavagan purchased it. Tales abound of tigers roaming the bar and gun shots signaling closing time during his ownership, but what’s not undeniable is the restaurant’s appeal, which is still going strong after 80 years.

To honor Cave Creek’s western roots, local artist Mark Carroll constructed two life-size stainless-steel metal sculptures of a horse rising on its hind legs in 2014. Standing nine feet high, they are located both on Cave Creek Road at the north and south entrances into town.



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