The first county seat was placed in the town of La Paz. La Paz was a major port city, along the Colorado River. However, when the river shifted its course the town was dismantled. The county seat was then moved to Yuma.
Yuma has gone through several name changes. The first name was Colorado City. In 1858, it was changed to Yuma. Then just a couple years later, in 1869, it became Arizona City. Finally, in 1873 by a legislative act, it was changed back to Yuma.
Yuma County covers 5,561 square miles. The county is situated in the southwestern corner of the state. It is a desert land accented by rugged mountains. The valley regions have an abundance of rich land suitable for farming. The Colorado River edges the western boundary of the county and Interstate 8 runs through its middle.
There are several wonderful spots to visit in Yuma County.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge covers 665,400 acres of beautiful desert landscape. It is a refuge for the desert bighorn sheep and the sharp-shinned hawk. One of the most interesting spots to hike inside the refuge is Palm Canyon. The hike can be tricky, but the reward is great. The only native stand of palms can be seen growing up through the rocks inside the canyon walls. Yuma Territorial Prison Historic State Park offers tours and a museum.
The prison once housed Arizona’s most dangerous criminals during 1876 through 1909. Exhibits at the park tell the story of life in the Yuma Prison. The Yuma Crossing State Historic Park covers 19 acres. Congress established the Yuma Crossing in 1865, as a depot to serve the entire southwest as a material transfer and distribution point for troops stationed at outposts in the Arizona Territory. It is located an unusually narrow part of the Colorado River, making it ideal for passage to other side. The park has a self-guided tour for visitors.
Yuma calls itself “The Sunny Center of the Southwest.” Not only does it have terrific weather, it also has excellent historic spots to visit.