Carefree / Cave Creek


These two adjacent towns are located north of Phoenix, high in the Sonoran desert. Carefree is a resort town with million-dollar homes, golf courses, upscale restaurants and many part-time residents. Cave Creek is an eclectic area with an Old West character, saloons and galleries. Both towns draw many visitors.

This neighborhood guide - like every one on Street Scout - was researched and written by experts from The Arizona Republic and It's based on public records, census data and on-the-ground reporting. Our Emmy-winning photographers and videographers have brought images of each neighborhood to life. We know our neighborhoods. If you want to live here, you want to read this.


The Carefree Highway runs along the southern edge of this area and connects to Interstate 17.

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Walk Score

Explore the 2 Areas of Carefree / Cave Creek

Carefree: 85377

Carefree is an upscale area with million-dollar houses built in pristine desert settings. Some houses have been carefully developed among the town’s giant rocks. The sundial in the town’s center is a popular attraction. And streets have whimsical names like Ho Hum Drive and Nonchalant Avenue.

Cave Creek: 85331

Cave Creek has thousands of acres of open desert that has been preserved. The area’s many galleries, saloons and Western-themed restaurants are a big draw. Desert-style homes and yards are the norm.



Carefree has million-dollar homes built in and around the area’s huge boulders. Many are designed by noted architects. Cave Creek has desert-style homes with smaller price tags on lots with native landscaping. Saguaros are plentiful.

The Market


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  • Home sales in Carefree and Cave Creek pick up in the winter and spring as the areas draw many visitors.

  • There’s not a lot of land left for new development in either town. But new-home sales account for almost one-fourth of all sales.

  • Home prices are high in these north Valley towns. The median price of a home in Carefree is more than $500,000. The typical house in Cave Creek sells for about $100,000 less.

  • Neither town was hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis. The area draws many second-home buyers.

Living Here

Living here

Expect a desert lifestyle far from any large downtown. Carefree has a resort feel and more million-dollar homes. Cave Creek is very Old West with many attractions. Both area are very protective of their open desert and don’t encourage booming growth. Cave Creek’s saloons and galleries draw a lot of day visitors. Carefree is a retreat for the wealthy.

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Things To Do


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Main attractions

The surrounding area is heaven for golfers. There’s Desert Forest Golf Club, an 18-hole, desert-style private course. And Desert Mountain is a private golf and recreational community with six Jack Nicklaus courses. The Boulders resort is nearby for a spa day or round of golf. Each year, the streets of Carefree turn into works of art thanks to the annual Carefree Art & Wine Festival.

Out on the town

Take a vacation in your own backyard at the upscale Carefree Resort & Conference Center. Carefree has a couple of popular Italian eateries, including Giordano's Trattoria Romana Restaurant. It’s located on Easy Street, just one of the whimsically-named roadways in the town. Cafe Bink offers the delicious bistro fare of James Beard finalist chef Kevin Binkley, but it comes with a smaller check than nearby Binkley’s in Cave Creek.

Main attractions

Cave Creek is ideal for those who love the desert. Surrounded by parks and conservation areas – most notably Cave Creek Regional Park and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation – the area is loaded with golf clubs. For a taste of the Old West, ride the trails on horseback at Spur Cross Stable.

Out on the town

Dining options run the gamut from down-home joints like Bryan’s Black Mountain Barbecue to award-winning modern American cuisine at Binkley’s Restaurant to the Hideaway Grill, a motorcycle-friendly watering hole. Or catch live music at Janey’s Coffee Co. & Bodega. Each year, the streets of nearby Carefree turn into works of art thanks to the annual Carefree Art & Wine Festival.

Explore the Outdoors


Carefree and Cave Creek are tucked into some of the most beautiful high desert landscape in the Valley with recreational opportunities throughout. Cave Creek Regional Park, the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area all are nearby or smack dab in the middle of the communities and offer myriad trails for hiking, mountain biking and running. And just a few miles away, Bartlett Lake Marina offers rentals of kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and motorized crafts for water sports or fishing.

Stats & Facts


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Who lives here

This small enclave is relatively wealthy and overwhelmingly White, non-Hispanic. Residents of Cave Creek and Carefree are well-educated and rely heavily on public schools. Most homes were built in the 1980s or 1990s. Carefree (85377) residents have the lowest school-dropout percentage in the Valley.

5 Things To Know About Carefree / Cave Creek

It’s small.

The entire area, encompassing both towns, only has about 10,000 full-time residents.

It’s a great place to hike.

Cave Creek Regional Park, the Phoenix Sonoran Desert Preserve and Spur Cross Ranch Conservation are all part of this area or nearby.

It embraces Arizona history.

“Where the Wild West Lives” is Cave Creek’s official town motto. In 2009, cards were drawn to decide a tie between two candidates for Cave Creek Town Council.

It has a popular private airport.

SkyRanch at Carefree Airport opened in Carefree in the 1950s and continues to draw visitors from around the world.

It has ties to Hollywood.

Southwestern Studios opened in Carefree in 1968. In the early 1970s, the New Dick Van Dyke Show was filmed there. The star had a home nearby. Films with Orson Welles and Bob Hope were also filmed at the studio, which closed in the late 1990s.