Arizonensis --> Sonoran Desert Naturalist --> Sonoran Desert Places --> Rackensack Canyon & Camp Creek --> Rackensack Birds --> Rackensack Wildflowers
Rackensack Canyon and Camp Creek is a stretch of riparian habitat located a short distance northeast of Carefree, Arizona. Rackensack Wash crosses the Seven Springs Road (FR-24) about 8 km north of the Bartlet Dam Road turnoff. The vegetation adjacent to the wash and to Camp Creek is dominated by fire-adapted chaparral scrub, but there are also saguaro cactus and other elements typical of Upland Sonoran Desert Scrub. This is a transition area between the two major vegetation types. In 2005 an extensive fire, the Cave Creek Complex Fire, burned much of the area on either side of Cave Creek Road - an event that will tend to perpetuate chaparral.
Motor vehicle access to upper Camp Creek is limited to lease holders in the cottage enclave along the wooded creek. Foot access along Rackensack Canyon from Seven Springs Road is easy and offers several kilometers up and down canyon to explore. Upper Camp Creek is a gallery riparian woods dominated by willows, cottonwoods and sycamores. It is a haven for birds, especially during spring and fall migration. Lower Camp Creek crosses the Bartlet Dam Road (NF-205). Areas north of NF-205 has been made off-limits to motor vehicles in order to allow the burned areas a chance to revegetate. A metal fence across the dry wash at this point has a foot-access through it allowing hiking up the wash. Down stream from Bartlet Dam Road, Camp Creek has been given over to ORV's and has become highly eroded. Blue Mountain is a prominent summit just east of the Camp Creek - Bartlet Dam Road crossing.
Map of Rackensack and Camp Creek, Maricopa Co., Arizona
Common species listed first:
Sugar Berry (Rhus ovata) is a plant that will benefit from the fire. It quickly re-establishes from underground roots. The leaves are shiny green. Photo taken May 2008 three years after the fire.
Hop Tree (Ptelea trifoliata) is found on hillsides in Rackensack and also appears to be regrowing well following the fire.
The cacti will generally be found on the terraces and rocky slopes, not directly in the sandy washes that are subjected to occasional flooding. Common species listed first:
Desert Christmas Cactus often grows in the partial shade offered by palo verdes or mesquite.
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