In the beginning, Yavapai County was the largest county in the United States. It was even given the nickname “Mother of the Counties.” Originally, Yavapai County took in all the land not apportioned to the other three counties of Yuma, Mohave and Pima. It covered an amazing 65,000 square miles.
Eventually, Yavapai County was carved up and divided into five other counties of Apache, Coconino, Gila, Maricopa and Navajo. Today, it encompasses 8,125 square miles. It is still a large county, comparing it to be equal in size to the state of New Jersey. It is located near the middle of the state with the Prescott National Forest, covering most of the land. Interstate 17 runs north and south through its middle.
Prescott was named the county seat. It was also given the title of first Territorial capital and first courthouse. Then in 1867, the capital was moved to Tucson. After ten years, the capital shifted back to Prescott. In 1889 the capital moved again, but this time to its final resting place in Phoenix.
Visitors will discover many interesting attractions in Yavapai County. Tuzigoot National Monument is the remains of a Sinagua Indian village that once housed nearly 450 people. The original structure was two stories high and had 75 ground floor rooms with ladders leading to the upper floors. Tuzigoot was built in 700. It is a wonderful place to spend a day following the self-guided trail through the ruins. Dead Horse Ranch State Park stretches 325 acres. It includes the Verde River riparian area, a lagoon and many hiking trails.
Over 150 species of birds make this park their home. There is also a multitude of wildlife that can be spotted here, such as beavers, coyotes, raccoons and turkey vultures. Catfish and trout are found swimming in the lagoon, just waiting for a fishing line. Camping sites are available on a first come first serve basis. Montezuma Castle National Monument is one of the best examples of cliff dwellings in the country. The Sinagua Indians built the five story dwelling around 1150.
Beaver Creek flows below the cliff dwelling. Visitors can take the trail up to the structure and image how advanced this culture was for the time. Fort Verde State Historical Park includes four fort buildings constructed during the 1870's. There are times that park volunteers reenact and dress in period clothes to help convey to visitors what life was like at the fort during the pioneer days.Jerome Historical State Park is actually a mansion. It was constructed for Jimmy Douglas, the owner of the Little Daisy Mine. The mansion was the place to socialize with mine investors. Today, tours are offered of this magnificent mansion, which is set below Jerome with breathtaking views of Verde Valley below. Yavapai County offers many local attractions ranging from natural to cultural to educational. It has something for everyone.