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 / September 2022

In Memoriam

The Friends of Cave Creek Canyon lost the 

Vice President of our Board of Directors and our friend, Mike Williams,

in late April 2022. His passion for Cave

Creek Canyon is his legacy and will leave a

long-lasting impression. He will be missed.

National Public Lands Day

September 24, 2022

NPLD is a "fee-free day" and volunteers will receive a fee-free coupon for future use in any location. Volunteers must sign up prior to the event. Please let us know if you will be joining us for lunch. For questions or to RSVP, contact

We will meet at the Visitor Information Center (VIC) in Cave Creek Canyon. From there, we will work on revitalizing the Nature Trail by creating a connector from the VIC to the current trail using stone pavers. Other work will include weed eating, trail brushing, and tread work. Afterwards, please join us for a cookout with burgers, hot dogs, and drinks provided.

Date:  September 24, 2022

Time:  08:30am to 12:30pm

Location: Cave Creek Canyon Visitor Information Center

19th Annual Portal Butterfly Count

by Lori and Mark Conrad

Photos by Lori Conrad

Hello to all butterfly enthusiasts! We held our 19th annual Portal Butterfly Count here on August 5th. We had a much better count in 2022 than we did in the previous year. Overall, we tallied 64 total species, which is 20 more than we had in 2021. The major drought we experienced in 2020 & 2021 kept previous numbers low, & our early monsoons this year helped bring them back up to a more expected level. We also had a few new participants this time, which is always fun!

A couple of highlights: Several individuals of this beauty, the Ares Metalmark, were in the garden at the Visitor Center. Metalmarks are so named for the silvery thread-like markings on their undersides. 

Also seen that day were several of these large, showy skippers, inappropriately named the Dull Firetip. Nothing dull about them! 

Always a stunner, this Red-Spotted Purple gave us a nice showing of its rarely presented underside that day. 

Lastly, this tiny skipper of the summer months, almost always found near water, the diminutive Four-Spotted Skipperling is well named. Both for its size and its spots! 

Next year's count should be in the first week of August, probably Friday, Aug. 4th, if anyone reading this has an interest in joining us. All levels are welcome, it's a great way to learn! Looking forward to some new faces again next year. 

Trails don't maintain themselves

by Rolf Koford and Dirk Sigler

It's a Law (of Thermodynamics): entropy, or disorderliness, increases over time. Trails are no exception. They slump, slide, get blown out, and eventually disappear until someone flouts the law. Cave Creek Canyon has seen its share of outlaws over the years. These individuals bring more order to the local trail system. They lop vegetation, move rocks, cut wood and more to make our trails safe and appealing. Some standout individuals, past and present, are Rick Taylor, Zac Ribbing, Walter Schoepfle, Jonathan Patt, and John Sumner. Most these individuals have been volunteers! By volunteering ourselves, we try to walk in their footsteps.

There has been a recent surge in trail maintenance, thanks in large part to Wild Arizona and their stewardship program. Brian Stultz, the Stewardship Director now based at the Visitor Information Center, has put trail crews in the field over the past year, most supported by grants. The US Forest Service has provided a lodging site and funds. Both Friends of Cave Creek Canyon and the Chiricahua Regional Council have committed thousands of dollars directly and as match funds in grants. Just think, in the not too distant future, hikers may be able to complete hiking loops on the South Fork/Burro/Horseshoe Ridge, Snowshed, Herb Martyr/Snowshed, and Greenhouse trails, using the Crest Trail to complete the loops. Extensive work has also been done on the west slope of the Chiricahuas.

Some recent trail maintenance has been done closer to home. The steep early section of the Silver Peak Trail is now easier to follow and navigate. Six miles of the South Fork Trail are in good shape. A new trail joins the Nature and Silver Peak trails to the Visitor Information Center. Trail signs are being updated.  

In September, there will be an opportunity to make your own contribution. A group of volunteers will lop vegetation along the South Fork Trail. This is important work and requires much less training than restoring the trail surface or clearing deadfall. Come join us. Be an outlaw. ;-)

New trail signs

Photo by Rene Donaldson

Willow Tank Refuge: This summer's monsoon has been one for the record books. Willow tank is so green! We anticipate the new water pump will be installed in the coming months to keep the water level up. This also provides water for fighting fires, using helicopters from the US Forest Service. Currently there is no other water source on this side of the Chiricahuas.

Photo by Rene Donaldson

The monsoon rains have created ephemeral streams and waterfalls and filled arroyos dramatically due to precipitation over a two to three week period. 

Photos by Tony Donaldson

Photo by Alice Wakefield

Don't forget Heritage Days!! 

Saturday, September 10th & Sunday, September 11th

Steve - The Wonder Host

by Rolf Koford

With Mike's passing and the reins of the Visitor Information Center solely in my hands, it is more important than ever to have good volunteer hosts at the VIC.  They don't come any better than Steve.  He has been volunteering here since before FOCCC was involved with the VIC.  He has returned every spring during our heaviest season, accompanied by his wife Laura.  In addition to VIC hosting, they led Walk & Talk sessions at South Fork.  They were always a cheerful and welcoming presence at the VIC.  Last year, they were made Lifetime members of FOCCC.

This year has been different for Steve and Laura.  They usually move on at the end of spring, going to their beloved Oregon coast for the summer.  This year, Laura took a position at the Southwestern Research Station.  Steve had some trepidation about a hot summer here but did not veto the plan.  I tried to assure him that summers here were bearable and the monsoon season was arguably the best!    He has been a trooper, withstanding low voltage in his RV, a hot June, primary dog-training duties, and more.

One of his accomplishments this year has been to convert our Point of Sale (POS) system from a kludgy one to the Square POS.  I feel like we have joined the 21st century.  We will be able to make sales with a credit card tap or dip.  Inventory will be integrated like never was before.  Visitors will have a better experience.  Thank you, Steve!

Steve leaves us in late September.  Drop by Thursday - Saturday to wish him well or make a Square deal.  He and Laura are headed to the California coast.  We in FOCCC wish them safe travels until we meet again.

Photo Gallery

Columbine by Alice Wakefield

Comma Satyr  & Tonto Dancer

by Alice Wakefield

Barometric Earthstar by Alice Wakefield

Clouds over the Canyon, photos by Alice Wakefield

Visitor Information Center [The VIC!]
By Rolf Koford
The VIC depends on volunteers. Hosting is one way of volunteering, but there are numerous other ways you can help. Contact me to learn more. Thanks in advance.
Rolf Koford (520) 558-0038 or

Support Friends of Cave Creek Canyon

Lifetime Members

Linda Castor
Paula Baldwin
Jacqueline Foutz
Caryn George
Mike Leuthold
Patricia Parran
Steve & Laura Paulson
Reed Peters

Thomas Roseman 

Rick & Joan Schneider

Delia Scholes

Lee Simpson & Howard Szczech

Denise Ward

Cecil Williams

David Zittin

Sustaining Members

Kirby Alguire

Tom Arny

Thomas & Mary Cartwright

Walt Mayberry & Kay Copenhaver

Charles & Mary George

Bill & Sally Hague

Paul Hirt & Linda Jakse

Don Hollister

Pi Irwin & Zoltain Zsombor

Fritz & Gayle Jandry

Claudia Kirscher

Rae & Jim Ludke

Patrick McNamara

John & Karin McQuillan

Barbara Miller

David Rorick

Tom Roseman & Paula Baldwin

Lee Simpson & Howard Szczech

Andrew & Ellen Stepniewski

John & Linda Sumner

James & Judy Taylor

Jeff & Alice Wakefield

Nancy Wenninger

Friends of Cave Creek Canyon Board Members

Bob Ashley

Sheri Ashley

Geoff Bender

Rick Beno

Rene Donaldson

Rolf Koford

Pat Parran

Reed Peters

Kim Vacariu

Alice Wakefield

Cecil 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 

Cave Creek Ranch 

Ed Newbold Wildlife Artist

Lone Mountain Natives

Painted Pony

Portal Peak Store and Lodge 

Sky Islands Grill & Grocery  

The George Walker House     

Wynne Brown 

Cable Publishing
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.

Always include: your email, pictures w/credits (jpeg format) and text. We can't guarantee your article will be used but all submissions will be reviewed and considered. Remember to keep it relevant, timely, and brief.

Send your plain text article with photos attached via email to

Alice Wakefield, the Newsletter Editor.