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Yavapai County Government

255 East Gurley Street

The History of Yavapai County

Yavapai County reflects the history of the old west and the future of the new. Remnants of U.S. Cavalry forts, Indian dwellings, gold rush boomtowns, abandoned mines, Spanish Land Grant ranches, homesteads and vast tracts of uninhabited public lands exist side by side with modern housing developments, industry and business here in the mountain heart of Arizona.
Traditional cowboys off the range, modern day gold prospectors with metal detectors and those living a rustic lifestyle in the isolated areas of the County rub shoulders with artists, university and college students, a large retirement population and families raising children in the small towns throughout the County.

Yavapai County is one of the four original Arizona counties formed in September of 1864, one year after the Arizona Territory was established. The County was named after the Yavapai Tribe, whose name means the "people of the sun."

The County was originally 65,000 square miles and was called the "Mother of Counties" because Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa and Navajo Counties were later formed from it. The territorial government was also born in Yavapai County, the capital being originally located in the County in the City of Prescott.

As with much of the Southwest, the history of the area predates the formation of the Arizona Territory and of the County. Pre-historic Indian artifacts can be found in ancient Indian Pueblos and mounds throughout the County. The greatest concentration of artifacts are found in the Verde Valley where the Sinagua Indians arrived around 500 A.D. and created dwellings at Tuzigoot and Montezuma's Castle.

Spanish explorers also traveled through Yavapai County. Antonio de Espejo visited the Jerome area in 1581, Juan de Onate explored the area in 1604 and Friar Francis Garces visited in 1776.

The California "49ers" crossed the northern part of the County in 1849 on their way to the California gold-rush and after the Civil War there was a marked influx of Southerners into the territory.

With an area of 8,125 square miles the County is larger than Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island and New Jersey. Yavapai County is approximately the same size as Massachusetts.

The terrain of the County varies from an elevation of 1,900 feet at its desert low to just under 8,000 feet on its mountain peaks. The diverse terrain includes grasslands, picturesque rock formations, high desert streams and mountain valleys. The major vegetation types in the County are grasslands, pinion-juniper, chaparral, desert grassland and desert scrub.

The climate varies from Sonora Desert in the lower elevations to mid-Canada at the higher elevations. The temperature variations from day-time high to night-time low throughout the year is about 35 degrees.

The County lies in the center of a 100-mile strip of Ponderosa pine forests which crosses the state from the northwest corner to the eastern boundary. The Prescott National Forest, as well as portions of the Coconino and Tonto National Forests, are within the County boundaries.

Only 26 percent of the land in the County is in private hands (individuals or corporations). Thirty-eight percent of the land is administered by the U. S. Forest Service, nine percent by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 27 percent by the State of Arizona, and less than 0.5 percent is held in trust as Indian reservations. There are three Indian reservations located in the County - the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Reservation, the Clarkdale and the Camp Verde Indian Reservation.

Yavapai County is once again experiencing a boom period with rapid increase in population growth. The clear dry air and moderate temperatures attract people of retirement age as well as those wishing to raise families away from the congestion and crime of the cities. According to the 1990 census the County population was 107,714, the population estimate is now 129,500.

The bulk of the population and the labor force are located in the eight incorporated towns and cities which include Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Jerome, Clarkdale, Sedona, Cottonwood and Camp Verde. The County's newest municipality is the Town of Dewey-Humboldt, which incorporated in 2004.

Industrial facilities are located in Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Prescott and Prescott Valley.

The County seat is located in the City of Prescott with an annex of County offices in the town of Cottonwood in the Verde Valley.

Recent News

Yavapai Resource Advisory Committee Recommends 10 Projects

Prescott, AZ -- The Yavapai Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) met on December 11, 2019 and reviewed 13 grant applications. RACs are responsible for recommending Title II funds that are part of the Secure Rural Schools Act 2008-2011 Reauthorization.…

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Yavapai Resource Advisory Committee Grants Available to Improve Watersheds, Forest Health or Infrastructure Maintenance

Prescott, AZ -- The Yavapai Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) is now accepting grant applications for projects that qualify for funding under the authority of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act. Although the primary…

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Yavapai County News - Goodwin Fire Drone Suspect Arrested

Between June 24th and 28th, 2017, 54-year-old Gene Alan Carpenter from Prescott Valley committed the following offenses in the area of the Goodwin Fire: ENDANGERMENT per A.R.S. 13-1201.A - Carpenter recklessly endangered 14 aircraft/aircrews and…

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Yavapai County News - Goodwin Fire Evacuations Lifted

As of 10 AM on July 3, 2017 morning, evacuations are lifted for the following communities – Walker Potato Patch Mount Union Mountain Pine Acres Pine Flat (Forest Road 177) – FOR RESIDENTS ONLY Poland Junction West side and south to…

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Yavapai County Resource Advisory Committee Recommends 10 Resource Projects

Prescott, AZ---The Yavapai County Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) met recently and reviewed 21 grant applications. RACs are responsible for recommending Title II funds that are part of the Secure Rural Schools Act 2008-2011 Reauthorization. In…

Read More »