Cave Creek Road #42/42B Scenic Drive


In Cave Creek you’ll find spectacular scenery, world class birdwatching, a riparian area teeming with unique wildlife, and a number of Forest recreation amenities to help you enjoy all those natural wonders. On this drive, you’ll get a good picture of what’s in store for you even before you enter the Forest. The soaring cliffs of Cave Creek Canyon, pocked with caves and punctuated with pinnacles, come into view well before you arrive. A short distance inside the Forest boundary, there is a Visitor Information Center (open year round, 7 days a week except for holidays, 9am-4pm) to provide you with valuable information, including books, pamphlets, and maps to help you more fully enjoy all that this very special area has to offer. Most who come here do at least a little birdwatching. This is one of the best places in the southwest to see the elegant trogon. Among the two hundred plus species that have been sighted here, there are many notable ones, such as the rose-breasted becard, olive warbler, red-faced warbler, magnificent hummingbird and blue-throated hummingbird. There are several Forest campgrounds in Cave Creek Canyon, as well as a number of trails that lead deeper into all that wonderful scenery. And if you’re not interested in doing a long hike, there is a short one to a scenic vista between Stewart Campground and South Fork Road. After leaving Cave Creek Canyon, the drive turns northwest through the old mining town of Paradise before heading southwest back to Portal. Much of this section of the drive leads through an open area of high desert providing good views of Silver Peak and Portal Peaks and another perspective on the colorful cliffs of Cave Creek Canyon.

At a Glance

Closest Towns: South of Portal; 150 miles east of Tucson
Operated By: Douglas Ranger District
Information Center: Douglas Ranger District   520-364-3468

General Information

Directions: From Tucson, take I-10 east for 139 miles (you’ll cross the New Mexico border). Turn right (south) on US 80 and drive 28 miles, then turn right (west) 7 miles into Portal. From Douglas, take US 80 approximately 50 miles east toward Rodeo, New Mexico. Two miles past Rodeo, turn left (west) on the road to Portal. From Portal, drive south on Forest Road 42 for 9 miles to the Paradise turnoff. Turn right on FR 42B and continue 3 miles to Paradise. Turn right (still FR 42B) and drive 5 miles back to Portal.


Scenic Driving

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Scenic Driving

Spectacular cliffs, caves, peaks. Cool, clear stream; lush riparian forest. World-class birdwatching. Campgrounds, picnic areas and hiking trails. Visitor Information Center with interpretive programs. Road Conditions: The first 5 miles south of Portal are paved, but rough. The remainder of the roads are gravel and suitable for passenger vehicles. Portions of this road can be made impassable by snow in winter or mud in summer. Season: All year, though the road is occasionally closed during winter snow storms
Areas & Activities


  Area/Length : 
About 17 miles

  Elevation : 
5,000 feet - 6,000 feet