USFS Visitor Information Center
The USFS Visitor Information Center (VIC), which has been closed since March 16, 2020, in response to COVID-19, is now open on a limited basis. VIC Hosts are in the yard 9 am – 3 pm daily to provide information about the canyon. The building and rest rooms remain closed. For more information, call the Forest Service district office in Douglas, Arizona (520-364-3468). Updates on the Coronado National Forest response to COVID-19 will also be posted at https://Facebook.com/CoronadoNF and @Coronado_NF.
The USFS Visitor Information Center (VIC) is located approximately 2 miles southwest of Portal and 9 miles west of the Portal Road/Highway 80 intersection. Based on volunteer and staff availability, the VIC is open every day 9 am – 3 pm except during the COVID-19 response.
Constructed in the 1920s as a ranger station, the Visitor Information Center is a source for information about the canyon. Inside you will find a friendly ranger or volunteer who will answer all your questions, supply you with maps and brochures, and give you tips on the best places to go.
A screening room showing an informative 30-minute video about the Chiricahua Mountains, a large relief map of the Chiricahuas hand made by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
The native species garden has labelled grasses, cacti, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees.
You can also call (520) 558-2221 to speak with a volunteer.
Flora and Fauna
The Chiricahua Mountains make up a biologically diverse area that comprises numerous ‘sky islands.’ Five of the 9 defined life zones are found in the Chiricahua Mountains. Others have seen approximately 370 species of birds (including 12 species of hummingbirds in summer), 170 kinds of butterflies, hundreds of plant species and over 20 varieties of mammals including ocelots, peccary, mountain lions, coati, black bear, ringtail, and white-tailed deer. Species lists for birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates can be found on the website of the Southwestern Research Station.
- Approximately 370 species of birds have been documented in Cave Creek Canyon, including 12 species of hummingbirds in the summertime.
- The Elegant Trogon can be spotted in trees near the south fork of Cave Creek
- A checklist of the 100 most common bird species in the nearby Chiricahua National Monument is available on their website.
- Resources about local birding guides, birding books and natural history information, are available on the Cave Creek Ranch website.
Southwestern Research Station
The American Museum of Natural History operates its famous Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in the canyon about 4 miles from the Visitor Information Center. Scientists come from all over the world to study the area’s unique reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, mammals, and birds. The laboratories are not open to the public.
Museums, Galleries & Gift Shops
- Chiricahua Desert Museum, located at the intersection of Route 80 and Portal Road, has a large gift shop and one of the best rattlesnake displays in the country. Hours are 9am-5pm, 7 days a week year round. Closed Christmas and Thanksgiving Day ONLY. (575) 557-5757
- Chiricahua Gallery, located in Rodeo, offers an excellent selection of hand crafted items and original art work from local artists. It is open year round. Check their website for hours. (575) 557-2225
- Southwestern Research Station, located in the canyon at the confluence of the Middle Fork and North Fork of Cave Creek, has a small gift shop.
The local community in the Cave Creek Canyon area sponsors many activities and organizations, which are described on the Portal/Rodeo website. Visitors are welcome to learn about the area and participate in activities that interest them.
Other Nearby Attractions
- Slaughter Ranch, near Douglas, AZ
- Gadsden Hotel, Douglas, AZ
- Chiricahua National Monument
- Fort Bowie National Historical Park
- Bisbee, AZ
- Queen Mine Tour, Bisbee, AZ
- Tombstone, AZ
- Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson, AZ
- Amerind Museum, Dragoon, AZ
- Hideout Ranch
The US Forest Service maintains several excellent campgrounds. Descriptions and current status are available on the USFS Website, and you can also contact the Visitor Information Center (520-558-2221) for more details. Although some campgrounds are closed, dispersed camping is available in the National Forest west of the Southwestern Research Station.
The following Cave Creek Canyon campgrounds are open spring 2022:
The Forest Service Website also has information about group campgrounds and rentals of the recently restored Portal Bunkhouse and Portal CCC House.
Check the Hiking page for more information on hiking in the Cave Creek Canyon area and the greater Chiricahua Mountains.