About Maricopa and the Surrounding Area
The City of Maricopa
Maricopa is a rural town, located about 45 miles or so SSW of the Phoenix Area. Its main artery is Arizona SR347. It is surrounded on 3 sides by the Ak-Chin and Gila River Indian Reservations and the Reservation's Farms. To the NW are the Sierra Estrella ranges - some believe the "Lost Dutchman Goldmine" is located here, not in the Superstition Mountains by Apache Junction.
Until about 2004, it was a quiet little place, a small desert farming town; a haven of quiet, clean country living. That's changed.
The City incorporated in 2003, and underwent a home building effort at frantic speed. The Collapse of the building boom had quite an effect on Maricopa. After several years of rapid growth and housing construction, the growth rate has leveled off and considerably less new home construction is happening while the backlog of new and foreclosed houses is whittled down. Despite the growth, and the growth of the businesses to support the increasing population, it is still a rural area (per US Post Office) and certain things confirm this... Coyotes howling in the distance... Wild horses, silhouetted in the Dawn or Dusk desert sun, sometimes both. Oh yes, Javellina's, snakes and scorpions are some of our desert wildlife.
Pinal County, our county, is classified as rural. In the eastern region are the towns of Apache Junction (yes, the wild west!) and Globe,which is surrounded by open-pit mines, mostly for copper. The central and western parts of the county are typical Sonoran Desert. Mostly flat, with a hard pack, clay-like soil, there is little wild life and little vegetation There are some Saguaro Cacti, but mostly the vegetation is Mesquite, and scrawny bushes which fight for water and survival.
There is one main river in the area, the Gila River, which runs from SE to NW as it passes its way by the east side of the Sierra Estrella (est-ray-uh) mountains, looping back down on the west side toward Gila Bend (pop. 2000) and eventually flowing toward Yuma where it joins the Colorado River. The term “river” is loosely used for the Gila – except in times of flood, the river is a dry bed, most water has been taken for irrigation purposes. There are a number of dry washes feeding toward it; dry, unless there's a cloudburst in the area.
There are a number of farms in the general area also. There are 2 or 3 fairly large feedlot operations, one very successful dairy farm, and an egg ranch. The Reservation farms have AZ and Colorado River water rights, so there are patches of verdant green surrounding us. Both the Reservations practice water-wise farming, and crop rotation. The Ak-Chin Farms are amongst the top farms in AZ for their yields and farming practices.
The history of the area is long and interesting. Maricopa Wells, a predecessor town, was an important stage stop, and the area was one of the 'super-highways' for the '49-er's on their way to California's gold fields. For an in-depth read on the history, check out John Deal's site in the "links" section. Hours of interesting reading.
Maricopa is in the NE Sonoran Desert. This desert stretches from the Gulf of California up into Southern California and pretty much covers all of southern Arizona. The Sonoran Desert is an unusual desert – it rains. In winter, we often get rain from wayward storms that drop a little low as they pass through California. Most rain is to the north of Phoenix, but we do get wet on occasion. In summer we have our Monsoon. A Monsoon is technically a change in wind patterns, (not tropical never-ending rainfall), and the winds shift to the SW-S-SE direction, bringing up moisture from the Pacific, the Gulf of California, and the Caribbean / Gulf of Mexico. Humidity goes up. Way up. Oh, it never get's really high (usually topping out around the 30% range), but when the temp is 105-115F (40-46C), it just as bad as Florida or the mid-west US. There are a couple of links in the “links” menu for information on the Sonoran Desert. Again, a good read.
Location on the Google Earth System
This Weather station can be found HERE