, recreational-resort communities, offer a pleasant blend of the older historical theme of Cave Creek with the newer planned community of Carefree. Both towns are nestled in the Arizona desert foothills, directly north of Scottsdale and approximately 15 miles northeast of Phoenix. Cave Creek, which was settled in the late 1870s, became a booming mining camp during the 1880s and incorporated in 1986. Carefree, on the other hand, was established in the late 1950s as a planned community and incorporated in 1984.
The two communities are residential areas with a heavy emphasis on resort-style living. Tourism contributes largely to the area's economy. A substantial number of retail and commercial establishments serve the residents of the communities. Carefree and Cave Creek are communities so embroidered into the surrounding landscape that it is difficult to determine where one begins and the other ends. Much of the natural scenery is spectacular, with massive piles of granite boulders, sharp mountains, and an abundance of desert growth that thrives at this 2,200- to 2,700-foot altitude. Because of the low-density development, residents share the area with deer, bobcats, cardinals, coyotes, javelina, coveys of quail, and an occasional mountain lion. The area's man-made attractions include many unique homes perched on the mountains. There is also the Spanish Village shopping center, modeled after a village in old Spain. The Carefree Inn and Conference Center serve the growing tourist industry. These facilities are renowned for the Carefree Sundial, the largest and most accurate in the Western Hemisphere; the huge Kachina doll at Tonto Hills, east of Carefree; Frontier Town, a recreation of an Old West town, the Cave Creek Museum, and an eclectic assortment of shops, bars, and restaurants. Scenic drives abound in the area. Black Mountain looms over the foothills from any vantage point. The Tonto National Forest borders the area on two sides with its untouched desert beauty. The Sonoran desert south of Carefree, along Scottsdale Road, offers a wide variety of plant life and color. The best way to enjoy the “backcountry” is on foot, horseback, or jeep tour. Nearby lakes at Bartlett Dam, Carl Pleasant Dam, and the Verde River provide scenic areas for all water sports including swimming, boating, water skiing, tubing, and fishing.