The City of Payson is almost in the exact geographic center of Arizona, just south of the Mogollon Rim and surrounded almost entirely by Tonto National Forest. To the north is the Mazatzal Mountain Range, to the south are the Sierra Anchas. About 97% of the land around Payson is either part of the national forest or part of an Indian reservation. Payson is home to the world's oldest continuous rodeo, the first rodeo having been held in 1884 and held again every year since (Prescott lays claim to the world's oldest rodeo but that event took a break during World War II). Payson is also the site of the Arizona State Championship Old Time Fiddlers Contest, an event which attracts nationally-known and local fiddlers and is held every year in September.
Famous western author Zane Grey spent a lot of time in the Payson area in the 1920's. Many of his western novels were about the area and its people. He also filmed several movies here, including To The Last Man. During Prohibition times, Payson was a major center for bootlegging. There's even a historic street named "Bootleg Alley." In those days it took 4 to 5 hours to drive to Payson from Phoenix and it was 1959 before State Route 87 was paved, reducing the travel time to about an hour.
Just north of Payson is Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, and to the north and east is the Mogollon Rim: the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau that was uplifted some 65 million years ago, exposing Paleozoic strata that still holds lots of fossils in its grip. In other areas around Payson you can find geodes, onyx, agate and quartz crystals of similar quality to Herkimer diamonds (doubly terminated quartz crystals named for the first location they were discovered in: Herkimer County, New York).
Payson has been growing by leaps and bounds but is now up against the limits of private land available in the immediate area.
Yes, Payson does get snow...
Founded: 1882; Incorporated: 1973
High School or Higher: 83.9%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 17.6%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 6.7%
2011 Cost of Living Index for Payson: 90.9
Estimated Median Household Income: $40,700
Estimated Median Home Value: $183,750
Median Resident Age: 48.9 Years
Construction, Health Care, Lodging & Food Services, Government, Educational Services, Arts, Entertainment & Recreation, Real Estate Services, Finance & Insurance Services, Professional Services, Waste Management Services
Unemployed (March 2011): 10.9%
2010 Population Demographics
|Population by Age|
|18 & over||12,622|
|65 & over||4,676|
|Population by Ethnicity|
|Hispanic or Latino||1,481|
|Non Hispanic or Latino||13,820|
|Population by Race|
|Hawaiian or Pacific Islander||18|
|Two or more||266|