Historical Overview, Current and Future
Located north of Fountain Hills and just east of Scottsdale, the land where Rio Verde sits was originally inhabited by Apache and Yavapai Indians. From the late 1800’s until the 1960’s, the site was part of a large cattle ranch. In 1960, land trades with the Tonto National Forest helped open the area for private development. In the 1990’s, significant private residential developments began to appear. Today, people are drawn to the natural beauty of the area and the prospect for rural and equestrian related activities. In 1979, residents of the area developed the Rio Verde Foothills Area Plan, a strategic guide for future growth. Components of the plan provide for preservation of a rural and equestrian lifestyle and compatibility with the natural surroundings. Also, included in the plan is an “Agenda for Action,” which provides for a scenic corridor, a trails plan, guidelines for securing rural development, and a fire protection plan.
New Developments and Trends
Preservation of a rural lifestyle in the Rio Verde Foothills Area Plan has prevented the Rio Verde area from developing too fast. Most residents choose to commute to or work from home, in order to safeguard their peaceful way of life. However, it is the serenity of this area that has drawn some new residents and home sites to the area. The development of championship golf courses and an active adult community in the city of Rio Verde gives residents access to amenities within close proximity to the area. Some home buyers are opting for custom-built homes, but the purchase of existing homes is included in future population projections.
The residents of the Rio Verde area enjoy a quiet way of life. Median age is significantly higher than Maricopa County, but this statistic may be skewed because of the low population density of the area and the development of the Rio Verde and Tonto Verde adult communities. Median household income is also slightly higher than Maricopa County as a whole. Overall, crime rates are considerably lower as well, with violent crime rates nearly nonexistent. There are no public schools in the Rio Verde area, but a recent merger of the Christopher Verde and Cave Creek School Districts allows local students to attend schools in Cave Creek. Some students also attend schools in nearby Fountain Hills and Scottsdale Unified School Districts.
Entertainment, Shopping, Recreation
Because the residents of the area have a strong will to preserve their rural way of life, entertainment and shopping venues have been discouraged here. Its close proximity to the cities of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills allows for world class shopping and lively entertainment within a short drive. The surrounding natural environment dominates recreational activities. Long-time residents enjoy equestrian activities, either on their own properties or on trails in the surrounding McDowell Mountains and Sonoran Desert. Nearby Bartlett Reservoir is a popular destination for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, wildlife viewing, and camping.
Popular Community Activities
In order to preserve the country feel of the Rio Verde Foothills area, community events usually involve private gatherings of local residents. However, the “Old West” comes to life each April, with the annual “Spring Fling: A Western Roundup. During this event, visitors enjoy great food, live music, a silent auction, and raffle drawings. In keeping with the western equestrian premise of the Rio Verde community, most visitors come to the event on horseback.
Situated in the high Sonoran Desert, the Rio Verde area averages 296 days of sunshine and 14 inches of precipitation each year. Its elevation of 1650 feet above sea level is reason for somewhat cooler temperatures and more precipitation than surrounding communities. December high temperatures average 66°F, and July high temperatures average 105°F. The majority of rainfall occurs during the monsoon season, lasting from July through September.
Preservation of the area’s rural character is paramount to residents, and very few businesses are located in the vicinity. Residents are close enough to easily access businesses in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills. The Rio Verde Foothills Alliance publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, featuring stories of local interest, news and advertisements. Many business owners live in the area and advertise their businesses in the Rio Verde Foothills Alliance newsletter.
The area is serviced by the Rio Verde Volunteer Fire and Rural/Metro Fire Departments.
In a metropolitan area as lively and vibrant as Phoenix, it is uncommon to find rural living so close. The Rio Verde area is historically an equestrian rural community, with an “Old West” feeling. Residents have taken measures to ensure that future developments do not disturb their serene way of life, preserving the rural lifestyle that attracted them there in the first place. The majority of roads remain unpaved, and traffic usually consists of horseback riders, hikers, and bicyclists. A visit to the area is almost like a trip back in time, to a place where life is simpler and more enjoyable.