Get acquainted with this charming southwestern town that boasts trails instead of sidewalks and hitching rails at all the restaurants (no, for real).
Top photo: Along the trails of Cave Creek. Andy Jou/Flickr/Creative Commons License.
Ocala, Aiken and Wellington–you’re so 2013. This winter, we’re going to Arizona.
Cave Creek is a little western-style town about 40 minutes north of Scottsdale — it’s considered part of the Phoenix metropolitan area — and it may be one of the most horse-friendly towns in the country. Boasting a population of just over 5,000, Cave Creek is a destination for outdoor recreation with miles of multi-use trails, regional parks and other preserved open space (plenty of breathtaking stark desert views). While summer temperatures can skyrocket over 100 degrees, autumn, winter and spring are quite comfortable with dead-of-winter temperatures usually sitting around 40.
The town has preserved its “old west” character, so there are classic-looking saloons, general stores, restaurants and souvenir shops everywhere as well as “Frontier Town” area. In the residential areas, however, one can avoid the tourist trap of downtown and just ride–almost everyone seems to own a small ranch and keep horses, and the trail system is almost as well-traveled as paved roadways. Many of the downtown restaurants maintain hitching rails so residents and tourists alike can ride right up for lunch. It’s one of those towns where the residential areas don’t have sidewalks–they have horse trails.
The horse community is so well-developed in Cave Creek that real estate websites for the area specifically include a “horse property” checklist in their search engines. (I found 92 available properties using these criteria with prices ranging from $250,000 for a modest farmstead to $7.3 million for a ranchero.) No worries about neighbors complaining about your manure pile or horses calling for their breakfasts–everyone’s a horse owner here. With proximity to Scottsdale, the competitive equestrian will not be lacking for opportunities either: the famous Scottsdale Arabian Show is the most prominent event in February, but the city also hosts numerous other breed shows, reinings and rodeos as well as a vibrant USEF jumper series.