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Birding Around Cave Creek and South Fork
Birding Around Las Vegas, Favorite Places Far Away
South Fork
South Fork
Elegant Trogon along Cave Creek

Overview

Cave Creek Road, South Fork Road, and South Fork Canyon Trail are magical places to search the madrean pine-oak forest for Mexican species who stray across the border into southeastern Arizona. This is the northern-most extension of Mexican woodlands, and the birds (who don't care much about border politics) just come on up to breed. No recording/playback devices are allowed in this area.

This is a driving and walking adventure, so from Portal, continue west on Portal Road following the pavement. The speed limit drops to 20 mph, so slow down, roll down the windows, hang your ears outside, and listen. When the birds sing (the loud, noisy birds are Mexican Jays), find a pullout and park off the road.

Link to South Fork Area Map.

Cave Creek Road
Scenic road in late afternoon light

The road passes open grasslands just above Portal where various sparrows and flycatchers can be seen. At night, watch for Poorwill on the road. The road passes turnoffs to Paradise, Cave Creek Ranch and Birder's B&B, then continues upstream as the canyon narrows.

The road passes the Ranger Station on the right, then Idlewild and Stewart campgrounds on the left (all good birding). At 3.25 miles above Portal Town, the road forks. The dirt road to the left follows the South Fork of Cave Creek.

Turn left onto the dirt road and drive slowly about 0.8 miles to a bridge, which is a good area for birds. Continue another 0.5 miles to the end of the road. South Fork Picnic Area is a pleasant place to relax and wait for birds to come by, but it costs $5 per vehicle to use the area. For more adventure, continue up South Fork Canyon Trail, which I think goes forever, but the first mile or two make for a nice walk and excellent birding. The area burned a few years ago, but the landscape is recovering quickly.

Cave Creek Road
Cave Creek Road
Cave Creek Road
Entering the Coronado National Forest
Cave Creek Road
Poorwill on the road
Cave Creek Road
Turnoff to Cave Creek Ranch
Cave Creek Road
Turnoff to Birder's B&B
Cave Creek Road
Ranger Station on right
Cave Creek Road
All is not well in Paradise (or Cave Creek)
Cave Creek Road
Parking: listen here for the chatter of Elf Owls
Cave Creek Road
Information sign
Cave Creek Road
Stop off the road to bird
Cave Creek Road
Paved Cave Creek Road
South Fork
Unpaved South Fork Road
South Fork South Fork
South Fork
Just below the bridge
Cave Creek Road
Just above the bridge
South Fork
End of the road parking
South Fork
End of the road parking
South Fork
South Fork Picnic Area, Coronado National Forest sign
South Fork
Self-service pay station ($5 per car)
South Fork
South Fork Picnic Area
South Fork
South Fork Canyon Trailhead
South Fork
South Fork Canyon Trailhead with info signs
South Fork
South Fork Canyon Trailhead
South Fork
Trail mileages (Maple Camp makes a nice destination)
South Fork
South Fork Canyon Trail
South Fork
South Fork Canyon Trail, entering Chiricahua Wilderness Area
South Fork
South Fork Canyon Trail
South Fork
Crossing the (dry) South Fork of Cave Creek
South Fork
Hiker on South Fork Canyon Trail
South Fork
Water in the South Fork of Cave Creek
South Fork
Water in the South Fork of Cave Creek
South Fork
Hiker on South Fork Canyon Trail
South Fork
The trail is well signed
South Fork
Nice place for a wilderness lunch
South Fork
Evidence of the fire
South Fork
Hiker returning down South Fork Canyon Trail
South Fork
Keep an eye out for our slithery friends (Black-tailed Rattlesnake)

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130502

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