About Payson

Payson history – farming, mining, tourism and cool mountain town

Payson was first settled by Mormon pioneers in the late 1800s and went through several cultural and economic cycles before turning into the tourism and recreation small Arizona town that it is today.

Mormon pioneers led by James Stinson settled the area in 1878, attracted by its fertile land, abundant water supply, and mild climate. Unsurprisingly, they called “Green Valley.” Those early residents farmed and raised livestock, and the area grew. It was named Payson ins 1884 after after Chicago businessman Levi Joseph Payson, an early funder of the first Mormon chapel in the area. The first school was established also in 1884, and by 1890, there were several stores, a post office, and a hotel.

Mining Boom and Bust

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Payson experienced a mining boom as prospectors discovered gold and other minerals in the surrounding hills, and Payson became the hub for mining activity. The mines brought short-lived wealth and growth to Payson. By the 1920s, many of the mines had closed and Payson’s population declined.

Tourism and Growth

With the mines depleted, Payson turned to tourism in the 1930s and 1940, thanks in part to its proximity to the Tonto National Forest and the Mogollon Rim, a draw for outdoor enthusiasts that continues today. Local leaders improved the town’s infrastructure and amenities. In 1942, the Ox Bow Inn, – Payson’s first motel, opened, and the town’s first paved road was completed in 1949.

In the 1950s and 1960s, more tourists discovered the town’s charm, and the population grew. It wasn’t until 1973, though, that Payson was officially incorporated as a town.

Modern Payson

Today, Payson is a thriving community of about 15,000 residents and an economy run on tourism, healthcare, and education, with tourism as the major industry. of the local economy, with visitors enjoying hiking, fishing, camping, exploring and other outdoor activities.

Payson is also home to several healthcare facilities, including a hospital and several clinics. The schools are part of the K-12 Payson Unified School District.

In recent years, Payson has faced challenges, including a devastating wildfire in 2017 that destroyed homes and businesses. But Payson has been resilient and has worked to rebuild and recover. Its cool pine forest make it a favorite getaway and second-home community for the Phoenix area, about 90 minutes away.

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Why You’ll ❤️Love Payson & Rim Country

The nearly mile-high mountain town of Payson, just below the Mogollon Rim, offers the perfect combination of old and new with clean high-country air, charming and active small town life, and comfortable and affordable homes for families and second homes.

It’s one of Arizona’s prime recreation and historic havens,, with Native and Old West sites sites and museums, lush woodlands, tranquil lakes, and mountains rife with wildlife. You can play among the pine forests, mountain lakes, flush streams, and scenic meadows. You’ll find good ol’ days holiday celebrations like the 4th of July with pie-eating contests, old-fashioned baseball games, and fireworks over the lake.

You’ll also find a range of houses from luxurious master-planned developments to mountain cabins ranging from basic to elegant and a full range of real estate in-between. It’s a fabulous place to call home or our memory-building active getaway. All of this is within an easy 90 minutes of urban Arizona.

Come see what Payson and the Rim Country have to offer.