Cave Creek Ranch or Santa Rita Lodge

We are planning a family trip to southern Arizona.

I’m thinking staying a few days in Tucson mainly to see the cactus and then a few days at a wildlife spot.

It looks like the Cave Creek Rand and the Santa Rita Lodge are the two popular choices on this forum. Is it worthwhile to visit both? What if I can only afford to go to one timewise? Which one offers more mammals during the day time and has more things to do?

The trip will be in mid-late April.



  • Charles Hood

    Both sites will have diurnal deer, rabbits, squirrels, turkeys and such, and both can have trogons in April. Cave Creek is the further drive: from Tucson, Madera Canyon is less than an hour, while from Tucson Cave Creek is more like three hours. You have to go over the New Mexico border, then drop back south and west. The Tucson / Madera Canyon / I-19 axis has more general culture, including San Xavier del Bac church, the Titan Missile Silo (Cold War historical site), Tumacacori National Monument, and the art galleries at Tubac. You can also do a day trip to Patagonia for birding (and pronghorn en route). If you don’t want to cook dinner, Green Valley is close enough to Madera Canyon to go for dinner. One route could be two nights in Tucson, three in Madera Canyon, and one in Patagonia. Cave Creek has more skunks though (much better for hog-nosed) and probably a slightly higher chance for bear / puma. When in Tucson, don’t forget Sweetwater Wetlands for bobcat, raccoon, and general birding. / Charles Hood

  • jeannette hanby

    Cave Creek is in the Chiricahua mountains. Fabulous habitats and birds. The research station in Portal can give out info on what mammals are where. The coati groups are especially interesting. Around Santa Rita lodge are birds at feeders, cacomixtle sightings, maybe a single coati, and maybe even a bear, though I dont know about April.

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