Arizona Geography & Maps
This page offers four maps of Arizona to help locate the places and communities mentioned by the Arizona100 blog. (You may have to click on a map, and then click dimensions (example: click on “1215 x 1413”) to get full-size)
Arizona in the 21st Century
Arizona Territory is born 1848-1863
Arizona railroads & Indian lands 1900
Arizona roadmap 1951
Arizona is located on the southwestern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, where the Colorado and Gila Rivers drain in a southwesterly direction into the Gulf of California. Elevations range from less than 100 feet above sea level below Yuma to more than 7,000 feet on the Colorado Plateau and more than 10,000 feet on the tops of old volcanoes.
Arizona may be divided into three geo-regions (see 1900 geo-regions map below), extending diagonally across the state from northwest to southeast. The southwestern corner of the state is a low-lying desert region with isolated, barren mountain ranges running for relatively short distances northwest to southeast. Across the middle of the state, running northwest to southeast is a rugged mountain region of canyons, high cliffs and very high mountain ranges surrounding narrow valleys or basins. This mountain region in the southeast corner of Arizona is marked by isolated ranges, called “sky islands,” surrounded by Sonoran or Chihuahuan desert. The northeast third of the state is a plateau region dominated by the vast Colorado Plateau extending into Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
Exploring soldiers and padres from Spain claimed the southwest for their king beginning in 1536. Europeans established missions, ranches and military presidios in the San Pedro and Santa Cruz river valleys in the 18th century. Revolution created the Republic of Mexico in 1821, encompassing the former Spanish colonies. The region increasingly called “Arizona” was part of the Mexican state of Sonora with the capital at Arispe. As a result of war between Mexico and the United States 1846-1848, the southwest (northern Sonora) was ceded to the US by a peace treaty.
This 2001 map produced by the US Geological Survey shows the principle geographic features of Arizona along with railroads, major highways and largest communities. Forest covers the mountains colored in green, thick spruce-fir forest at the highest elevations, a more open ponderosa pine forest on slightly lower elevations.
This 1929 map by Emery Cobb of Phoenix shows two territories, Utah and New Mexico gained by the US from Mexico in 1848. At the time, New Mexico Territory included all of what would later become Arizona and Pah-Ute County, Arizona Territory (ceded to Nevada in 1866). Arizona south of the Gila River and the New Mexico boot heel remained in Mexico until purchased by the US in 1853. In response to attempts during the Civil War by southern sympathizers in Tucson to break away from New Mexico Territory, Congress created Arizona Territory in 1863 with a dividing line running north and south. Arizona became a state February 14, 1912.
This US Geological Survey map of Arizona from about 1900 shows the three geographic regions of the state, along with counties, railroads, principle towns and Indian reservations. Greenlee County was created in 1909 from portions of Graham County, with Clifton as county seat. La Paz County was created January 1, 1983 after a vote of citizens in northern Yuma County. The county seat is Parker(not shown on this map; see 2001 map).
This roadmap by H. M. Gousha Company of Chicago was distributed free in 1951 by Chevron gasoline stations. It shows Arizona before the Interstate Highways and before Lake Havasu City was created. (There is a gutter line with staples, an artifact from the original Gousha booklet, visible across the top of the map.)