Colorado City, Arizona

Colorado City, Arizona
At the eastern edge of Colorado City

Colorado City is located against the Utah border in the Arizona BLM Strip (that large chunk of land in Arizona north of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River). Colorado City has been somewhat famous since the days of the Short Creek Raid (when Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle sent National Guard troops into the settlement then known as "Short Creek" in 1953 to stop the practice of plural marriage among members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). In the aftermath of the Short Creek Raid a 2-year legal battle began between the church and the state, and that public relations disaster for the state eventually led to an unofficial hands-off attitude toward the town.

Colorado City came into the national limelight again in 2004 when local religious leader Warren Jeffs expelled a group of 20 men (including the town's mayor) from the community and "gave" their wives and children to other male members of the sect. The Utah Attorney General's office says that between 2001 and 2006, Jeffs expelled as many as 400 young men from the community for not following his dictates. As all these men had lived lives almost totally sheltered from the rest of the modern world, some folks have come to refer to them as "the lost boys." On September 25, 2007, Warren Jeffs was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison after being convicted of 2 counts of being an accomplice to rape. Most of the private property in Colorado City was owned by the United Effort Plan, the FLDS' financial arm. However, the state dismantled that church ownership in 2007.

Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, are essentially twin cities, each across the Utah-Arizona state line from each other. This area has the world's highest incidence of an extremely rare genetic disorder (fumarase deficiency) that causes severe mental retardation. As at least half the residents of Colorado City and Hildale are descendants of John Y. Barlow and/or Joseph Smith Jessop (early founders of the town and of the splinter church group), geneticists attribute the problem to the extremely high level of inbreeding.

On top of the Vermilion Cliffs just east of town is Cottonwood Point Wilderness Area. To the south in the Arizona BLM Strip is the Mount Trumbull Wilderness, the Mount Logan Wilderness and the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument. Southeast is Pipe Spring National Monument.

The population of Colorado City is up almost 45% since 2000. It's hard to know where the population growth has been as a large part of Colorado City is behind high walls. Just east of town there is a sign on the highway pointing to Cane Beds but as soon as you turn on that road you'll see a sign stating that it is a private road: Do Not Go There. When I drove through in the fall of 2015 the landscape was relatively green and the ground was often muddy. Just off the highway on the east side of town there was a section of freshly widened and paved road but that didn't go far. Most other streets in town were either very dilapidated or had never been more than dirt. The only person I saw on the streets was a well-dressed-but-clearly FLDS woman coming out of the post office with a large armload of mail.

Cottonwood Point Wilderness
Cottonwood Point rises above Colorado City
The Post office in Colorado City
Colorado City Post Office
Fast Facts about Colorado City, Arizona
Colorado City, Mohave County, AZ 86021
Latitude: 36.9896°N
Longitude: 112.978°W
Founded: 1913
Incorporated: 1985
Elevation: 4,979'

High School or Higher: 70.6%
Bachelor's Degree or Higher: 5.2%
Graduate or Professional Degree: 0.4%
Cost of Living Index for Colorado City: 85.8

2014 Estimates:
Median Household Income: $29,200
Median Home Value: $121,700
Median Resident Age: 12.6 Years
Major Industries:
Construction, Educational Services, Health Care, Lodging & Food Services, Furniture Manufacturing, Retail Services, Light Manufacturing, Government, Transportation Services, Waste Management Services
Unemployed (August 2014): 9.7%
2010 Population Demographics
Total Population
Population by Age
Under 18
18 & over
65 & over
Population by Ethnicity
Hispanic or Latino
Non Hispanic or Latino
Population by Race
Native American
Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
Two or more
Mohave County Pages