ILX Drive: Carefree and Black Canyon City, Arizona

Odometer (Legend):  526,843


Odometer (ILX):  52,922


Trip Distance:  120 Miles


Let’s hit the road in the 2013 Acura ILX for a little sightseeing around the Phoenix area.  Buckled in?  Okay, good.  Anybody who’s followed Drive to Five long enough knows I’m a sucker for anything that’s “world’s largest.”  I’ve seen a giant firecracker, massive chili pepper, and plenty of muffler men.  But how in the world did I never know that this 39-foot-tall monstrosity was nearly in my own backyard?


My friend Chris and I set out on a mission this morning to find some offbeat destinations, and we succeeded with ease.  Northeast of the Phoenix metro area is the small town of Carefree, an upscale residential community bordering Scottsdale.  Its motto is “Home of cowboys and caviar; where the old west meets the new.”


Other notable street names in this community, fitting for the name of Carefree, are Easy Street, Tranquil Trail, and Ho-and-Hum Roads.  But my destination this morning was Kachina Road, because it’s home to this masterpiece.


Okay, maybe it wasn’t all that exciting but if you’re into kachina dolls, this must be something quite special!  I rowed my 6-speed gearbox just a few miles to the southeast and entered the center of Carefree.


What in the world could that sculpture in the background be?


You’re looking at America’s largest sundial.  This copper structure stretches 62 feet and points toward the North Star.


A smaller sundial is mounted on a rock at the base of the larger one.  A plaque contains some instructions on how visitors can use the sundial to tell time.


Here’s the inscription from the sundial:

Solar engineer John Yellot and architect Joe Wong designed the sundial for K.T. Palmer in 1959. It stretches 62 feet and points to the North Star. Solar local time is 27.7 minutes behind Mountain Standard Time and the hour markers are adjusted to compensate. The town of Carefree added copper cladding in 1990.


There was also a sign asking people to please not climb the sundial.  Anybody else see those sneaker skid marks?  Looks like someone’s succeeded in getting at least halfway up it.


Nearby, an overhead water feature drizzled just enough water to cool us off in the 100-degree heat.


No road trip is complete without some quality grub.  For that, Chris and I headed north on Interstate 17 (which was swarming with highway patrol for the holiday weekend).  Thanks to my friend Kyle, I’d learned of a great restaurant just 45 miles north of Phoenix in Black Canyon City.


Its name is Rock Springs Cafe, and it’s been around since 1918.


Settlement started here as early as 1860.  The first commercial development started around 1918 by a man named Ben Warner.  A completed restaurant, general store, and hotel was opened in 1924 and for many years this place served as the only telephone and post office for many many miles.


Chris and I enjoyed the history lesson, but we cared more about something else:  the food.


There’s no shortage of advertising for Rock Springs Cafe’s most famous menu items, which are its pies.


In all, 19 flavors were available to us.


After a hearty turkey sandwich lunch, I opted for the chocolate cream pie.  It was so smooth.


Smiling faces because the pie was every bit as tasty as advertised.


A refill on premium and the ILX brought us home in no time flat.


Hope the holiday weekend is treating everyone well!  There’s a lot more going on around here but I’m saving that for another post in the next couple of days.  Thanks for coming along on this morning’s drive.

8 Responses to “ILX Drive: Carefree and Black Canyon City, Arizona”

  1. Tyson, next time you’re in the area, we’ll have to cross another “world’s largest” off your list…El Paso’s largest illuminated star on the ground! Also that pistachio near Alamogordo. 🙂

    • I haven’t stopped thinking about that gigantic pistachio since I saw it on your blog! It’s a must-see. The star thing sounds cool. And my to-see list continues to grow…

  2. Sherry Dompier Says:

    This was great – loved all the facts and pictures!


    Sent from my iPad

    • Thanks Sherry for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Hopefully you can make it here to Arizona sometime and experience some of these sights & sounds in person. Hope you’re having a great holiday weekend.

  3. Another great write up.

    • Thanks Terry! I hope all is well up north. I appreciate you keeping tabs on my crazy adventures around here, even if it’s just to seek out weird stuff like sundials.

  4. MMMMMmmmmm chocolate pie!

    And with the weather being so hot it just made it all the better!

    • Dave, you are right! The cream pie was really refreshing after our meal. I still say my favorite dessert of all time is called “KEY LIME PIE” cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory. So good.

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