Our mission is to inspire appreciation and understanding of the beauty, biodiversity and legacy of Cave Creek Canyon through volunteer work and outreach programs.

August 25, 2021
Here are some interesting stories and pictures of recent activities in Cave Creek Canyon and the Chiricahaus
Long-jawed Longhorn Beetle by Kris McIntyre

Elegant Trogons in nest cavity in sycamore tree on South Fork Rd.
Photos by Carol Comeau
Adult Elegant Trogon feeding nestlings by Carol Comeau
Elegant Trogon fledgling by Carol Comeau
Clouds Showcase Willow Tank by Rene Donaldson

Arizona’s monsoon clouds and light put forth their best show recently at Willow Tank to delight 10 birders and photographers with the Sequoia Audubon Society (San Mateo County, California). Leaders of the pack were Jane Dixon and Adam Dudley, co-owners and operators of Wild Path Nature Tours. While birds were scarce, butterflies delighted, and, of course the skies, the heavenly gorgeous nimbostratus clouds which threatened rain and eventually produced it in Cave Creek Canyon, not Willow Tank this time.
Caption: Leaders of the lucky pack are Jane Dixon, center with camera, and Adam Dudley, far right with hand on hip.
Annual Portal Butterfly Count
by Mark and Lori Conrad
Juniper Hairstreak by Lori Conrad
Hi everyone!
We held our annual Portal Butterfly Count on Friday, August 6th. It being a really bad drought year, there were very few blooming plants of any kind, anywhere. As an example, on last year's count we had a total of 761 Dull Firetips, a large, showy member of the skipper family. This year, we found one. Yes, one. There are almost zero Mexican Thistles here this year, their favorite nectar source. Last year we counted 8 different species of a southwest specialty genus known as Roadside-skippers. This time, we had only three species! And only 1 or 2 of each. Despite the poor conditions, we ended up with a tentative total of 42 species, which is quite good, considering the lack of nectar sources! Our count in 2020 yielded 51 species.
As we did last year, most of the butterflies we counted were in local gardens, & at the gardens at the Visitor Center. We'd like to thank our gracious Portal neighbors for allowing us to count in their beautiful gardens once again. We had a few participants from Portal, several from the Tucson area and a new participant, visiting here from New Jersey, also helped us out this year.
Dainty Sulphur by Lori Conrad
Juniper Hairstreak
By Lori Conrad
Moon-marked Skipper
By Lori Conrad
Help and Support Cave Creek Canyon!
      Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 8:00 AM until 12:30 PM
Work crews will be supervised by Forest Service personnel, headed by Derek Lehner. Crews will remove old pipe and invasive plant species from Cave Creek.

Sturdy footwear is required. Gloves and eye protection available. Food and beverages provided. We need a list of volunteers by Sept. 13.
Volunteers who are not members of Friends of Cave Creek Canyon will need to fill out a Volunteer Service Agreement.

Please contact Rolf Koford to ask questions or express interest.
VIC Visitors and Volunteers
by Rolf Koford

The Cave Creek Visitor Information Center (VIC) is operated by FOCCC under a partnership agreement with the Forest Service. After being closed for much of 2020, the VIC has returned to being a primary place for information about the Canyon. Visitors are still not allowed inside the building, which creates certain challenges and opportunities for our volunteer hosts. VIC visitation has returned to its pre-pandemic levels, which means we can expect over 10,000 visitors each year.

I manage the VIC, which means I recruit and oversee volunteers. We currently have openings for both short-term and long-term volunteers. I would like your help. Let me know if you are willing to be a VIC host, even for half a day a month. Our short-term (1-3 months typically) volunteers come from elsewhere (not Portal or Rodeo) and live in their RVs or trailers. Maybe you know someone from elsewhere who might be interested. Please ask them to get in touch with me.

If you want to know more about what hosting is like, I can put you in touch with volunteers willing to share their experiences. I am grateful for Pat, Lee and Michelle for recently stepping up. Imagine helping a visitor who has just discovered Cave Creek Canyon. They are in a beautiful place and may already have enjoyed some of our wildlife. You get to help make a happy person even happier. What could be more satisfying.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who wants to learn more. The best way to contact me is e-mail (

Despite the cancellation of traditional Heritage Days indoor presentations due to public safety concerns during the current COVID-19 surge, the Saturday outdoor Market and Crafts Fair and the Sunday Mountain Wildflower Walk are still on schedule. The Market and Crafts Fair will be open 8:30 a.m. AZ time (9:30 a.m. NM) on Sept. 11 and close at 4 p.m. AZ time (5 p.m. NM). The Market will feature live music with Dennis Hanisch and Friends and great tacos at the on-site Migration Taco Stand.

Fourteen vendor tables are currently scheduled offering nursery plants and trees, fresh produce, gems, jewelry, books, crafts, one-of-a-kind paintings and ceramics, information on local conservation activities and more.  A few Market table spaces are still available, to reserve a spot contact <> .

The popular Sunday Mountain Wildflower Walk with Elaine Moisan and Dave Jasper will meet at 9 a.m. AZ time (10 a.m. NM) on Sept. 12 at the Cave Creek Canyon Visitors Information Center.
Portal Hiking Club - Aug. 5
By Carol Simon

Bootlegger Saddle had 13.28 inches of rain in July. Five hikers headed for the high country to see the results of this very significant rainfall. Beginning at Rustler Park we walked up the Long Park Road. We were pleased to find some ripe raspberries along the way. It is August after all.
Walking the short Long Park Trail to Fly Saddle, we walked through tunnels of green resulting from aspen growth. Fields of bracken ferns added to the carpet of green covering the mountains. At Fly Saddle, where five trails come together, we were surprised to find that that the many, many raspberry bushes did not appear to have flowered this year. Perhaps they just didn’t flower yet? At any rate, we did not find raspberries here. The extreme drought gave us some odd reproductive efforts among the plants and animals of this region. Perhaps this is one of them?
Next, we turned onto the Crest Trail, heading for Bootlegger Saddle. Along the way there were abundant wild flowers, including composites such as sneezeweed, golden eye and fleabane. Verbena, Thurber’s cinquefoil, delphinium, geraniums, paintbrush, penstemon, columbine, wallflowers, Texas bluebells, lupine and many others added to the mix. It was clear that it had indeed rained. If you like wild flowers, it is time to go high in the Chiricahuas.
Hybrid Columbine
After lunch at Bootlegger Saddle we continued down the Crest Trail to Rustler Park. This section of the trail is still in very good shape and the summer’s vegetation has not yet choked it. We walked a total of 6 1/2 miles and ALL the trails were in great shape. Thanks trail crews!
Coatimundis In Abundance
They are being seen in great abundance from Portal well up into Cave Creek Canyon. Groups of 4 or 5, up to as many as 25 are being seen including many young.
Above photos by Carol Comeau
Below photos by Ray Mendez
Below: young Coati eating a large grub.
Berylline Hummingbird
By Bob Rodrigues
Violet-crowned Hummingbird
by Bob Rodrigues
Western Wood-Pewee
By Winston Lewis
Green Rat Snake by Paul Hirt

Marine Blue Butterfly by
Alice Wakefield
Photo by Alice Wakefield
Friends of Cave Creek Canyon Board Members
Bob Ashley
Sheri Ashley
Rick Beno
Rene Donaldson
Rolf Koford
Pat Parran
Reed Peters
Kim Vacariu
Jeff Wakefield
Alice Wakefield
Cecil Williams
Mike Williams
Help us thank our Business Members who have given generously to Friends of Cave Creek Canyon. Without their assistance, we would be hard pressed to accomplish our goals. Click on the underlined names to check out their websites.    
A.S.K. Pest Control 
Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist
Painted Pony
Sky Islands Grill & Grocery  
Daussin & Associates   
Migration Taco
OL' Morani Ranch 
Sky Island Rolfing  
Terry Miller
Umphres Propane
Would you or a friend like to submit and article for the FOCCC Newsletter? Our goal is to share information about current events in the Canyon.

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