Black Canyon City is an unincorporated community in southern Yavapai County, Arizona, just north of Phoenix along Interstate 17, that has a mining history and was a stagecoach stop. It’s now famous for homemade pies from Rock Springs Café and boasts some of the best monarch butterfly and bird-watching opportunities in the state.
In this video, we take a road trip to spend an afternoon in town, sharing findings and tips from visiting three of the main attractions in the area, the Black Canyon Mining & Mineral Museum, Black Canyon Heritage Park, and Rock Springs Café & Saloon, home of world-famous pies. Housed in a plaza in Historic Downtown Black Canyon City, the Black Canyon Mining & Mineral Museum’s mission is to preserve the history of mining and minerals in the Bradshaw Mountains, including mining operations at the Maggie, Kay Copper, and Tip Top mines. The museum has a collection of mine photos, rocks, and minerals from Arizona, 19th century mining tools, and maps dating back to 1836. Visitors can check out fossils of a saber-toothed tiger and woolly mammoth and Native American antiquities found in the area, as well as a new meteorite exhibition. Black Canyon Heritage Park is about 8 acres with an accessible trail that provides riparian, birding, butterfly, and other environmental experiences in a family-friendly, nurturing environment. Their visitor center is managed by the Black Canyon City Chamber of Commerce with lots of information on the local area, including the Aqua Fria River, the Aqua Fria National Monument, and Arizona overall. Their monarch butterfly waystation is quite a nature spectacle! Established in 1918, Rock Springs is a historical landmark and roadside stop serving legendary pies in a western atmosphere. The Rock Springs village includes the Cafe, Pie Box, Various Shops & Event Venue. They sell more pie than any other single location in Arizona!
Black Canyon City has been known by several names, including Goddard or Goddards, Cañon, and Black Canyon, serving as a stage stop on the Phoenix to Prescott line, a military stopover en route to Fort Whipple and Fort Verde during Territorial days, and a supply center for mines in the southern Bradshaw Mountains. Notable residents have included John W. “Jack” Swilling (1830–1878), an early pioneer in the Arizona Territory, prospector, Confederate soldier, and commonly credited as one of the original founders of Phoenix, Arizona. The walls of his ranch house, Swillings Cabin, the community’s oldest building, still stand.
Whether you make a day of it or stop by on a road trip north-south on I-17 between Phoenix and Sedona or Flagstaff, there’s plenty to discover in Black Canyon City.