Payson, located at the “heart” of Arizona and a pleasant
90-minute drive from the Phoenix metropolitan area is
renowned for its beauty, recreational opportunities and, more
recently, it's dynamic business environment.
At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the area enjoys a mild four-season
the climate that attracts international visitors year around. Rich in its
Western Heritage, Payson–with an average trade area population
of some 24,500–offers the atmosphere of rural America,
with the amenities of a metropolis.
The local economy is dominated by the tourism and retirement
industries, with a growing emphasis on manufacturing and service
firms. Also being encouraged is a light industry that is compatible
with the community's “High Quality of Life.” Many
Arizonians and visitors alike migrate to cool Payson in summer.
In the winter, the community attracts many visitors who want to
enjoy its mild climate and rural atmosphere.
Among the area’s major employers are the Payson Unified
School District, the Mazatzal Casino, the Payson Regional
Medical Center, and the Town of Payson. In recent years, several
manufacturing operations have located in Payson, including
Precision Intricast (precision orthotics device manufacturer),
Pulau Electronics, Custom Aircraft (airplane assembly/repair
firm), and Daryl’s Precision (precision machine work). Other
employers include Gollipops (lollipop producer) and the Payson
The Payson Economic Development Corporation works actively
with new and existing business to provide high-quality business
and employment opportunities for area residents. It operates a
revolving loan fund program for use by local and relocating
firms requiring low-interest financing. All of Gila County is an
Nestled in the gently rolling hills of the majestic Mogollon Rim–a
7,000-foot, 200-mile long escarpment–Payson is minutes away
from the seven Rim Lakes and countless trout streams. Popular
outdoor activities include hiking, fishing, camping, cross-country
skiing and hunting. One of only three pure air ozone belts in the
world, Payson sits on the edge of the world's largest stand of
Local attractions include the Tonto National Bridge, Shoofly
Indian Archaeological Site, Payson Exotic Zoo, Tonto Fish
Hatchery, a llama ranch, a town-wide Christmas tree lighting ceremony,
and the new 45-acre Green Valley Park featuring three
fishing lakes and space for many recreational activities. Payson
also, boasts the Recreational Fly-In Campground located at
Payson Airport. Payson hosts the “World's Oldest Continuous
Rodeo” in August and the Spring Pro Rodeo in May. Other festivals
occur throughout the year, including the Art and Craft
shows, the June Bug Blues Festival, and the State Championship
Fiddlers Contest in September.
Pine is in Eastern Arizona. It is in Gila County. The town sits below the Mogollon Rim on State Route 87, just north of Payson. Pine is the sister town to Strawberry, which is located three miles to the north. It is approximately 110 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Pine is a vacation and retirement community. Today Pine has a combined population with Strawberry of 4,000. The town sits at an elevation of 5,448 feet. The climate is mild all year round with a low winter temperature of 23 degrees and a summer high temperature of 92 degrees. The beauty of the outdoors is a draw to many who come to stay.
Pine wants its visitors to experience the past through the many attractions available in town. The Historic Walking Tour of Pine is something you won’t want to miss. Many original log and rock cabins still remain. Some buildings have been turned into antique stores, cafes and gift shops. You may pick up a self-guided tour of the chamber of commerce.
The Pine-Strawberry Museum is located at the old Mormon pioneer chapel. The museum retells the history of northern Gila County. There are artifacts such as barbed wire, rifles, and pottery. It is a small town museum with lots of interesting information. The Strawberry Schoolhouse is the oldest standing school in Arizona. The school is just north of town in Strawberry and was built in 1884.
It was established to meet the needs of the pioneer families. The school closed in 1916 and was restored and dedicated as a Historical Monument in 1981. Today, the school has many pieces that were used throughout the school’s history. The Pine-Strawberry Historical Society keeps it open during the spring and summer. It is a great place to visit. There are numerous outdoor activities located near town.
The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a spectacular sight. The park has picnic areas, a historic lodge and hiking trails down to the 400-foot natural travertine tunnel. It is a natural wonder that must be one of your top places to see. The Blue Ridge Reservoir is to the northeast of town on State Highway 87, then follow Forest Road 751 south down to the reservoir. Fishermen will enjoy taking a boat out to catch trout. The Blue Ridge Campground is a great place to spend the night and then head back out to the skinny lake the next day. The best time to drop your line is during the spring and fall.
A group of Mormons decided to settle in the area around the Little River Colorado in 1876. Soon after choosing their places to settle, several men decided to explore the area around their establishment. They headed down to the Tonto Basin. Needless to say, they found this area to be unsuitable for future communities.
Then a year later, another group traveled into the Tonto Basin. Rial Allen and Price Nelson discovered a location along Pine Creek. The next year Allen established the community of Pine. The town was named after the surrounding timber pine country. Allen built a fort as protection against Indian attacks.
The community continued to grow. In 1884, the post office was established and is even used by the community of Strawberry and Pine today. Many of the early buildings were gabled-roofed framed houses, built near the general store. Although, there were some scattered and partly concealed by the tall pines.
Today, the town remains unincorporated. It is a vacationer’s haven and a retiree’s dream.
Strawberry is in Eastern Arizona. It is in Gila County. The town is below the Mogollon Rim on State Highway 87. Strawberry is only three miles north of its sister town Pine. It is 19 miles north of Payson and approximately 110 miles northeast of Phoenix.
Strawberry has cool clean air and four mild seasons. The town is surrounded by natural beauty and many recreational activities. Today Strawberry has a combined population with Pine of 4,000. The town sits at an elevation of 6,047 feet. The climate is mild all year round with a winter low temperature of 23 degrees and a summer high temperature of 92 degrees. Strawberry continues to be a place that many retreats to enjoy the pines.
There are several attractions in town that will give you a look back in time. The Strawberry Schoolhouse is the oldest standing school in Arizona . The school was built in 1884 and was established to meet the needs of pioneer families. The school closed in 1916 and was restored and dedicated as a Historical Monument in 1981. Today, the school displays many pieces that were used throughout the school’s history.
The Pine-Strawberry Historical Society manages it and it is open during the spring and summer. It is a great place to stop by. The Historic Walking Tour of Pine is something you won’t want to miss. It is located just three short miles south of Strawberry. Many original log and rock cabins still remain. Some buildings have been turned into antique stores, cafes and gift shops. You may pick up a self-guided tour of the chamber of commerce in Pine. The Pine-Strawberry Museum is also located in Pine, at the old Mormon pioneer chapel. The museum retells the history of northern Gila County. There are artifacts such as barbed wire, rifles and pottery. It is a small town museum with lots of interesting information.
Strawberry has many outdoor activities. The Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a spectacular sight. The park has picnic areas, a historic lodge and hiking trails down to the 400-foot natural travertine tunnel. It is a natural wonder that must be one of your top places to see. The Blue Ridge Reservoir is to the northeast of town on State Highway 87, then follow Forest Road 751 south down to the reservoir. Fishermen will have a great time taking a boat out to catch trout. The Blue Ridge Campground is a perfect place to spend the night and then head back out on the skinny lake the next day. The best time to drop your line is during the spring and fall.
Strawberry Festival June
When King Woolsey was traveling in the area during the historic Apache campaign in 1864, the name Wah-Poo-eta was given to the site that is now Strawberry. The name came from a famous Apache war chief. He was also known to white settlers as simply, Big Rump.
In 1886, the first white settlers arrived. They chose the name Strawberry because wild strawberries were found growing all over. During the same year, the post office was established. However, it was closed down in 1904. Today, residents use the post office in Pine, three miles to the south.
The town established its school in 1887. The school was a great demand for the Peach family with eleven children had come to town. The entire community built the school in one day. Today, the Strawberry School still stands and is noted as being the oldest standing school in Arizona. You can stop by and take a tour of this amazing sight.
The town of Strawberry remains unincorporated. It is a popular tourist place and is a second home to many living in the valley.
In 1876, the town of Payson began when Bill Burch constructed a cabin. Then in 1882, John and Frank Hise opened a store in the area. The community began to grow due in most part to the lure of gold.
Later, a fort was built to protect the settlers from the Apache raids. The community was called Union Park, however the town had other names such as Big Valley and Green Valley
The town finally received its name from an Illinois senator named Louis Edwin Payson. In 1884, Payson passed the recommendation for a post office to be established in town. In honor of Payson’s help, the town decided to change the name to Payson.
Most of the town’s first residents were miners searching the nearby mountains for precious minerals. Soon the fact that nobody was going to strike it rich became a reality. Nevertheless, many of the residents decided to stay on. They enjoyed the wonderful four-season climate. Soon the residents switched their occupations and became loggers and ranchers.
Throughout Payson’s history, it has been a real cow town. During many years when ranches in the area fought over land and livestock, Payson became a neutral ground or retreat.
One of Payson’s most famous residents was Zane Gray. During the 1920’s, Gray lived outside of Payson in a log cabin where he wrote many books. He loved the pines and the beauty of the Mogollon Rim, which reaches above the town of Payson. This environment became his inspiration for his western books. Unfortunately, his cabin burned in 1990 and can no longer be seen.
Payson continued to be an isolated mountain town until 1959, when the Beeline Highway (State Highway 89) was built linking it to Phoenix. Today Payson is a popular tourist hangout because of its proximity to Phoenix and its ideal climate.