Yavapai County, Arizona is located near the center of the state of Arizona. This county was named for the Yavapai Native American tribe who had settled in the region. Yavapai, from the Native American language word enyaeva (sun) + pai (people) means “people of the sun”. Yavapai creation lore states that a maize plant or a tree sprouted from present-day Montezuma Well thus bringing the Yavapai to the world.
• County overview and history
Created by the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864, Yavapai County was one of the four original counties in Arizona. It was named for the people who were the original caretakers of the land at the time the area was annexed by the US government. Apache, Coconino, Maricopa and Navajo counties were formed from the original territory (thus its nickname “the Mother of Counties”) which was stated to be east of longitude 113 degrees 20 ‘and north of the Gila River. The county’s current boundaries were set in 1891.
A great deal of the county’s history is also the story of early civilizations. Indian artifacts dating as far back as 500 AD can be found. Ancient pueblos and mounds dot much of the land in the area and contain a vast treasure trove of artifacts. The largest concentration of these can be found in Verde Valley dating back to at least 500 BC to the Sinagua Indians. The 16th and 17th centuries also saw exploration by the Spanish explorers Antonio de Espejo and Juan de Onate. After the Civil War, southerners came to the territory to search for gold.
Yavapai County is roughly the same size as the state of New Jersey. The county’s roughly over 8,100 square miles of land and water are governed by the US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management, State of Arizona, private concerns and less than 1% as Indian Reservation. The Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation are the sovereign Native American nations in the county. Together they make up the five Verde Valley tribal communities or reservations.
Twenty miles north of the current county seat, Prescott, the first territorial government was established in 1863. In 1864 it was moved permanently to the present site of Prescott, Arizona. In the 1860’s, Prescott was a gold mining hub, being one of the most productive sites in the Southwest.
Tourism, including Native American arts and culture, professional sports, rodeos and shopping are available year round in Yavapai County.
Ranching and farming–One of the best ways to experience the “bounty of the county” is through the Yavapai County Farmers & Ranchers Cooperative.
YCGrown is an agricultural co-operative showcasing food grown in Yavapai County, Arizona. It is the only food hub in Northern Arizona. Working with local farmers and ranchers YCGrown helps promote market, receive and distribute farm-fresh products to customers in every part of the county. Manufacturing and mining are some of the county’s largest industries. Yavapai County resources produce gold, cooper, silver, lead and zinc. Gold mining continues to remain top commodity produced. The county also boasts a large group of local vineyards. Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus is on the forefront of the county’s burgeoning grape and wine industry. The County and Yavapai College Verde Valley Campus have partnered in an effort to bolster the economy in rural Yavapai County by riding the enthusiastic wave of the growth of the local wine industry. Local artists and musicians add to the spirit of enthusiasm for the wine industry with live music nights, wine tastings and wine barrel painting. The Arizona Wine Growers Association (AWGA) working with Arizona grape growers and wineries helps represent and promote the wine industry in Arizona.
Yavapai County is home to a large number of local indigenous plants and flowers, with grasslands, pinion-juniper, chaparral, and dessert scrubs as its major vegetation. Agave and Yucca are the most recognizable of the plants. There are also numerous cacti, grasses, trees, wildflowers and shrubs. The California Fan Palm, once nearly extinct, can also be found there. Yavapai County is situated in the center of a 100 mile wide strip of Ponderosa pines that cross the state from northwest to east boundaries. The County is also home to the Prescott National Forest and parts of the Coconino and Tonto National Forest.
Elevations range from 1900 feet at the dessert floor and nearly 8100 feet at the mountains’ summit. The temperature can vary more than 35 degrees from day to night between the elevation levels.
The Upper Burro Creek Wilderness Area is home to numerous species of birds and houses one of the deserts few undammed perennial streams. It is also well known for its “rock hounding”. Purple agate, opalite and jasper can be found in the area. Check with the BLM-Bureau of Land Management for specific mining profiles in the area at www.blm.gov/az/st/en/prog/recreation/rockhnd/minerals.html
Out of Africa Wild Animal Park is also located in Yavapai County in the Camp Verde Black Hills. Out of Africa Wildlife Park features animals from all points on the globe and especially Africa. The park recreates an authentic African Bush Safari that showcases the animals in their natural surroundings and allows them the freedom to exhibit their instinctive behaviors. These exotic creatures are lovingly and respectfully cared for by the dedicated staff. Out of Africa Wild Animal Park seeks to promote a natural human and animal relationship while allowing the animals to maintain their natural behaviors. The park also promotes conservation, animal rescue and education with year round adventure.
The history of the old west, with the remains of old cavalry forts, Indian homes, abandoned mining towns, ranches from the Spanish Land Grant , homesteads and wide areas of unoccupied land can be found along side of modern–day industry in this part of the Sonoran dessert.
Whether traditional cowboy, tech-savvy student, trendy modern family or active senior, Yavapai county boasts one of the most diverse populations in the Southwest.
Yavapai County has continued to see constant population growth and industrial and business expansion. Yavapai county has been named one the best places to live in the Southwestern US with the largest part of the population and workforce located in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley, Jerome, Clarkdale, Sedona, Cottonwood and Camp Verde which includes industrial facilities. Visit http://www.yavapai.us/ for complete details on county services, departments or information.
• County seat overview and history
The County Seat of Yavapai County is Prescott, Arizona. Located in the largest grove of Ponderosa Pine trees in the US, Prescott has an average yearly temperature of 70 degrees with four unmistakable seasons. At 5200 feet above sea level, it boasts beautiful vistas of granite mountains and sprawling green meadows.
Its climate is ideal for all variety of outdoor activities as well as shopping, breweries and restaurants. Prescott has small town charm and big city appeal. Enjoy world famous Whiskey Row, including The Palace, the oldest restaurant and bar in Arizona, and other historical sites from the Old West all nestled in nature’s abundant beauty. Many of the old historical buildings have been converted into boutiques and galleries as well.
Prescott ranked 9th out of 186 US cities in a recent well-being survey. The survey rated
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.
Prescott was designated as the first capitol of the Territory by Territorial Governor John N, Goodwin. Goodwin originally chose a site along the east side of Granite Creek. In May, 1864 the capitol was later moved to the new site that was named in honor of historian and author, William Hicklilng Prescott who wrote “The History of the Conquest of Mexico.” Although the names Goodwin City, Audubon and Aztlan were originally proposed, Prescott was ultimately chosen. In June, 1864 the initial lots of Prescott were auctioned off with a total of 232 by July, 1864. Prescott served as the capitol of the Arizona Territory until February, 1889 when the ‘capitol of the Territory was changed for the final time to Phoenix. Prescott’s official incorporation was in 1881.
Old West folklore is also a part of Prescott’s colorful heritage. Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt Earp, was a Prescott resident. Legend also has it that Doc Holliday spent time in Prescott before fate intervened and he moved to Tombstone, Arizona.
Sharlot Hall, Smoki and Phippen museums are a cornucopia of the territorial history of Prescott, Arizona. The Arizona Pioneers Home is also located in Prescott. The Arizona Pioneer’s Home is a compassionate care, residential living facility for retired Arizonans that is maintained by the State of Arizona.
Major fires over many years have caused downtown Prescott to be rebuilt in brick.
Governor Rose Mofford named Prescott “Arizona’s Christmas City” in 1989 because of its devotion to the spirit of Christmas. The Courthouse Lighting Ceremony has been held in early December every year for over 60 years. The Courthouse Plaza’s 100 trees are covered in color lights as well as the Yavapai County Courthouse in keeping with the Christmas spirit. Many businesses and resident also participate in the Prescott Christmas Parade that takes place on the same days as the Lighting Ceremony.
The Prescott Resort holds the annual “World’s Largest Gingerbread Village” show from mid November to early January. The Acker Musical Showcase presents musical groups from all forms of music as they perform in downtown Prescott. The musical groups are hosted by the local businesses.
Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park located in Yarnell, Arizona, just south of Prescott was built to honor the memory of the 19 members of the Prescott Fire Department lost in the Yarnell Hill forest fire in June, 2013. This is a walking/hiking tour to the site were the firefighters fell while in the line of duty. Visit https://azstateparks.com/hotshots for information on upcoming events and trail locations.
Don’t forget to ring in the New Year on December 31 with the New Year’s Eve Boot Drop at 10 pm and again at midnight.
• County courthouse – overview and history
For over 140 years, the Yavapai County Courthouse has been the hub of celebrations, commemorative events, campaign announcements and gatherings of all kinds. Most notably, Barry Goldwater announced his presidential run from its steps. The “jewel” of downtown Prescott, Arizona, sits under stately oak trees in the heart of the historic commercial district. The County Courthouse was voted one of the American Planning Associations great spaces in 2008 due its combinations of community support, proper design elements and maintenance efforts.
Since the Courthouse is the center of Prescott’s original planning grid, it makes for a key addition to the downtown area at night as well as an additional dimension to Montezuma Street’s historic Whiskey Row. A fire in 1900 destroyed a large part of Whiskey Row, but the determination and civic pride of the merchants gave a large boost to reconstruction efforts. So much so that today, 11 buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Prescott Preservation Committee oversees, and must approve, any changes, renovations or demolition projects. It also oversees and advises on projects to maintain accuracy in preservation methods and techniques.
Between 1868 and 1902 the Yavapai County Courthouse underwent numerous facelifts, additions and rebuilds. Starting out as wooden structure and then rebuilt in brick for a whopping $60,000 (in 1878 dollars!) A clock with a bell that weighed 800 pounds was added that year as well. Wells were dug in each of the four corners to a depth of 40 feet. Following that, trees replaced the original cactus gardens. In 1892 seeping rain water caused a chemical chain reaction to resulted in a fire that necessitated renovations the same year. Electricity came to the Courthouse in 1984 when it was wired for its use as well the most of the downtown area. 1895 saw the completion the band shell prior to July 4th celebrations.
From 1902 to 1918 the Courthouse and its grounds saw a great deal of rebuilding and additions including a redwood pipeline that formed an artesian well for water and a memorial commemorating Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders from the Spanish-American War. The early part of the new century saw the push for Arizona statehood that included a visit by President Taft. On February 14, 1912, President Taft signed the Arizona statehood bill and local residents plant a white cedar on the courthouse grounds to commemorate the event. By 1916, the courthouse is again in much need of renovation and repair. In October of that same year construction began on over a $223,000 Neoclassical Revival style Courthouse. Completed in 1918, the Court and other departments were given a new home.
Starting in 1922 to 1978, the Yavapai County Courthouse was the site visits of nationally known political figures, wartime blackout sentry post and the first Christmas tree lighting in 1954. Barry Goldwater announced his presidential campaign from the courthouse steps in 1964. In 1974 the Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. On July 4, 1976, the Yavapai County Courthouse bell, dating from 1878, was rung in honor of the country’s bicentennial. This was the first time it rung in over 30 years since being saved from the old Courthouse building.
1984 to 2016 saw P.G. Rosenblatt, a Prescott Arizona native, appointed to the Federal Court in Phoenix in 1984, completion of the All Veterans Memorial in 1989 and from 2012-2015 a $7,000,000 restoration and renovation of the County Courthouse. John McCain ended his “Straight Talk Express” presidential campaign run by making that announcement on the County Courthouse steps in September, 2008. In 2016, under the supervision of Judge David Mackey, the Courthouse Centennial Committee added historical photos and artifacts to the Courthouse in honor of the laying of the cornerstone in 1916. Since its original construction, over 55 buildings have been used to house the Courthouse and its various departments.