Heber-Overgaard, Arizona

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Heber-Overgaard, Arizona
Central Heber-Overgaard viewed from SR260
"Always In Season"
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Location in Navajo County and the state of Arizona
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Heber-Overgaard, Arizona
Location in Arizona
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Heber-Overgaard, Arizona
Location in United States
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Heber-Overgaard, Arizona
Location in North America
Coordinates: 34°24′47″N110°33′52″W / 34.41306°N 110.56444°W / 34.41306; -110.56444 Coordinates: 34°24′47″N110°33′52″W / 34.41306°N 110.56444°W / 34.41306; -110.56444
Country Flag of the United States.svg  United States
State Flag of Arizona.svg  Arizona
County Navajo
Settled 1883
  Type Unincorporated
  BodyNavajo County Board of Supervisors
  Total6.86 sq mi (17.77 km2)
  Land6.86 sq mi (17.77 km2)
  Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
6,627 ft (2,020 m)
(2016) [4]
  Density411.2/sq mi (158.83/km2)
Demonyms Heberite, Overgaardian
Time zone UTC−7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP codes
85928, 85933
Area code(s) 928
FIPS code 04-32310
GNIS ID(s) 2408368, 29842, 32586
Major airportMogollon Airpark
State Routes Arizona 260.svg Arizona 277.svg Arizona 377.svg
Website www.heberovergaard.org

Heber-Overgaard is a census-designated place (CDP) in Navajo County, Arizona, United States. Situated atop the Mogollon Rim, the community lies at an elevation of 6,627 feet (2,020 m). [2] The population was 2,822 [3] at the 2010 census. Heber and Overgaard are technically two unincorporated communities, but as of the 1990 census, their close proximity has led to the merged name of "Heber-Overgaard".

A census-designated place (CDP) is a concentration of population defined by the United States Census Bureau for statistical purposes only. CDPs have been used in each decennial census since 1980 as the counterparts of incorporated places, such as self-governing cities, towns, and villages, for the purposes of gathering and correlating statistical data. CDPs are populated areas that generally include one officially designated but currently unincorporated small community, for which the CDP is named, plus surrounding inhabited countryside of varying dimensions and, occasionally, other, smaller unincorporated communities as well. CDPs include small rural communities, colonias located along the U.S. border with Mexico, and unincorporated resort and retirement communities and their environs.

Navajo County, Arizona County in the United States

Navajo County is located in the northern part of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 107,449. The county seat is Holbrook.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.


Heber was settled in 1883, by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and the town is named after either Heber J. Grant or Heber C. Kimball, both prominent members of the LDS church. [5] Overgaard, adjoining Heber, was settled c 1936 and was named after the owner of the first sawmill, Niels Kristian Overgaard. [6]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nontrinitarian Christian restorationist church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah in the United States, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 16 million members and 67,000 full-time volunteer missionaries. In 2012, the National Council of Churches ranked the church as the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the United States, with over 6.5 million members reported by the church, as of January 2018. It is the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith during the period of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.

Heber J. Grant President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Heber Jeddy Grant was an American religious leader who served as the seventh president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Grant worked as a bookkeeper and a cashier, then was called to be an LDS apostle on October 16, 1882, at age 25. After the death of Joseph F. Smith in late 1918, Grant served as LDS church president until his death.

Heber C. Kimball American Mormon leader

Heber Chase Kimball was a leader in the early Latter Day Saint movement. He served as one of the original twelve apostles in the early Church of the Latter Day Saints, and as first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than two decades, from 1847 until his death.

Heber-Overgaard's early economy was founded on dry farming and ranching while tourism, retirement and timbering are the basis for present day industry.

Tourism travel for recreational or leisure purposes

Tourism is travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. Tourism may be international, or within the traveller's country. The World Tourism Organization defines tourism more generally, in terms which go "beyond the common perception of tourism as being limited to holiday activity only", as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure and not less than 24 hours, business and other purposes".

Retirement point where a person ceases employment permanently

Retirement is the withdrawal from one's position or occupation or from one's active working life. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.

Lumber wood that has been processed into beams and planks

Lumber or timber is a type of wood that has been processed into beams and planks, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for structural purposes but has many other uses as well.



Black Canyon BlackCanyonHeberArizona.jpg
Black Canyon

In March 1873, Mormon pioneers from Utah were sent to the Little Colorado River area under the direction of Horton D. Height. In 1876, a large group of these settlers established four settlements on the Little Colorado River, which they named Brigham City, Sunset, Obed and Allen's Camp (Joseph City). [7] In Allen's Camp, a dam had been built on the Little Colorado River in April, but high waters in July washed it out. By August, many settlers had returned to Utah. Eight married couples and six single men were all that remained in Allen's Camp. By 1882, the Obed settlement had collapsed and both Brigham City and Sunset were near collapse due to several years of drought. At this time, John Bushman, of Allen's Camp, was sent by Lot Smith, then president of the Little Colorado Stake, to scout the forests to the south in anticipation of relocation. Dry farming in the forested mountains was thought to be easier due to higher rain fall, lush grasses, and plentiful timber. [8]

American pioneer

American pioneers are any of the people in American history who migrated west to join in settling and developing new areas. The term especially refers to those who were going to settle any territory which had previously not been settled or developed by European, African or American society, although the territory was inhabited by or utilized by Native Americans.

Utah A state of the United States of America

Utah is a state in the western United States. It became the 45th state admitted to the U.S. on January 4, 1896. Utah is the 13th-largest by area, 30st-most-populous, and 11th-least-densely populated of the 50 United States. Utah has a population of more than 3 million according to the Census estimate for July 1, 2016. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which contains approximately 2.5 million people; and Washington County in Southern Utah, with over 160,000 residents. Utah is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast.

Little Colorado River river in the United States of America

The Little Colorado River is a tributary of the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona, providing the principal drainage from the Painted Desert region. Together with its major tributary, the Puerco River, it drains an area of about 26,500 square miles (69,000 km2) in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico. Although it stretches almost 340 miles (550 km), only the headwaters and the lowermost reaches flow year-round. Between St. Johns and Cameron, most of the river is a wide, braided wash, only containing water after heavy snowmelt or flash flooding.

On December 6, 1882, Bushman set out for the forest with five brethren: W.C. Allen; J.H. Richards; J.C. Hansen; H. Tanner; and J.E. Shelley. Upon arrival they began digging wells in search of water. These men were later joined by Hans Nielson, Lehi Heward and John Scarlet. By April 13, 1883, two cabins had been built and grain planted, but only four families remained (Lehi Heward, John Scarlet, Hans Nielson, and James Shelley). John Bushman never settled in the area, but he and his family contributed time and encouragement to the local settlers. The first summer, houses were built, land cleared, and corrals constructed. Crops were planted not only for food, but also to barter for goods that could not be made at home. The growing season was four months long. [8]

In 1887, Lehi Heward abandoned the settlement and relocated to Pine, Arizona. He was urged to do so, because of the Pleasant Valley War. Buckskin Canyon, where he had settled, was named after the buckskin chaps his wife Elisabeth had made for him. John Scarlet was next to leave in 1888. His wife Lulu had become ill in June 1885. This may have contributed to his subsequent departure. In 1887, he was mentioned to have joined the posses of Joe McKiney's, under-sheriff for C.P. Owens. In 1889, Nathan, Alva, and Samuel Uriah Porter, arrived in Heber from St. Joseph (Joseph City). They grew crops of corn and potatoes between Heber and St. Joseph. The following year brought the Penrod and Sharp families from nearby Wilford. Samuel Porter would later describe the Penrods as anti-Mormon, and the Sharps as dishonest. In 1898, Hans Nielson abandoned his estate on the west bank of the Black Canyon where today's SR 260 enters town. Childless, Hans Nielson had been the first presiding elder for what became the Heber branch of the Joseph City Ward. James Shelley homesteaded land comprising the center of Heber and south down the Black Canyon. Of the original four pioneer families, starting out with four head of cattle, three daughters, and a few worldly possessions, James and Margaret Shelley were the only family to make Heber a long term commitment. [8]

Pine, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

Pine is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Gila County, Arizona, United States. The population was 1,963 at the 2010 census. Pine was established by four Mormon families in 1879.

Pleasant Valley War

The Pleasant Valley War, sometimes called the Tonto Basin Feud, or Tonto Basin War, or Tewksbury-Graham Feud, was a range war fought in Pleasant Valley, Arizona in the years 1882-1892. The conflict involved two feuding families, the ranchers Grahams and Tewksburys. The Tewksburys, who were part Indian, started their operations as cattle ranchers before branching out to sheep.

Wilford, Arizona Ghost town in Arizona, United States

Wilford, Arizona was a town in Navajo County, Arizona located approximately 7 miles south of Heber, along Black Canyon Rd. During the 1880s, discouraged Little Colorado River settlers began migrating to the forests of the Mogollon Rim. The town of Wilford was settled in April 1883 by a group of Latter-day Saints from the failed Brigham City settlement. Originally called "Adam's Valley", after founder, the name was changed to "Wilford", President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, at a quarterly stake conference in August 1883.

Early Heber

James and Margaret Shelley James and Margaret Shelley.jpg
James and Margaret Shelley

In 1882, Heber J. Grant was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Early on in his service in the quorum he made many trips to Arizona earning the title "The Arizona Apostle". [9] On one such trip, he passed through the settlement on his way to Phoenix, and stayed with the Shelleys in their cabin. [10] The townspeople latter named their settlement after Mr. Grant. [5] [10]

An alternative version of Heber's namesake history is that John W. N. Scarlett named the settlement after Heber C. Kimball, former Chief Justice of the State of Deseret. [5] [11]

The post office in Heber was established in 1890, and on September 11, 1890, James Shelley was appointed the first postmaster of Heber. [8] Mail was brought by buckboard every Wednesday from Holbrook to Heber. [10] It was then sorted and distributed. This duty was performed by James Shelley, in addition to being a farmer, cattleman, husband and father. [8]

Marion and Clarence Owens came to farm in Heber with their families in 1891. The following year, two practicing polygamists arrived from Utah to escape prosecution. One was called "Brother Luck". In 1893, Joseph Porter arrived in Heber to help his brother, Samuel Porter, with his farm. Also in 1893, John Nelson occupied a ranch in Brookbank Canyon, and the Baca family had settled near the head of Black Canyon. John Nelson and partner, Nicholas Valentine, were in the sheep business, and the Porters hauled their wool to the Holbrook railroad. Nicholas Valentin died four years later from a rabies bite acquired from a skunk. [8]

Many settlements were located in the fertile cattle ranching and farmlands of Black Canyon. Potatoes, corn, milk, eggs and large gardens were the livelihood of many families. Potato fields could be found down Buckskin Canyon, near the present day "Buckskin Artist Community". Cornfields and large gardens could be found where the present day High School ball fields and "Tenney's Trailer Park" are located. [10] All available land near town and in forests clearings was converted to farmland. Wilford, Jersey Gulch, Baca ranch and present day "Potato Patch" were favorite locations. [8]

During this time period, locals were said to be fearful of the Apache Native Americans. Food was said to be given to all natives, that passed through town, in order to "keep the peace". [10] At this time, travel to and from St. Joseph was sometimes perilous due to outlaws and quicksand. [8] Horses were the primary mode of transportation, and horse thieves were a major problem. [10]

On August 28, 1895, Joseph Porter and Mary Maude Shelley were married. Many locals with the surname of Porter, can trace their family roots to them. In 1896 Samuel, Alva and Nathan Porter divided up their farm. In addition to farming, Samuel Porter was often called upon to administer to the residents of Heber to alleviate pain and suffering by using prayer and petitions. A drought affected the residents of Heber that Summer, followed by crop destroying hail storms in August. In January 1897, Wickliff Bushman, while delivering mail to Heber from Holbrook during a snow storm, contracted the measles and died at 23 years old. Three of Samuel Porter's children also contracted the disease, but survived. Margaret Shelley had twin boys that June, but only one son survived. [8]

John Hoyle in front of first Heber store. John Hoyle.jpg
John Hoyle in front of first Heber store.

In 1891 John Hoyle, Johann Frederick Heil, an immigrant from Baden, Germany and former cook for the Hashknife Outfit, opened the first Heber store. He was called "Hoyle" rather than "Heil" because some cowboys had trouble pronouncing his name. In addition to his store, he had a farm located down Buckskin Wash. John Hoyle had relocated to Heber from the failed Wilford, Arizona settlement, 7 miles south of Heber, where he had a store and ranch. Samuel Porter helped him on his farm, and hauled freight to and from Holbrook. [8] He ran the store until his death on August 2, 1912 of paralysis (possibly polio). He had no heirs to claim the land in the United States. Through a German consulate, twenty-eight distant heirs were located and $3,046 was divided among them. [8]

May 1898 was so dry that water was hauled from wells in Wilford for household use. Heber wells still had enough for livestock. A small reservoir had been built below town, and filled up when water ran down the Black Canyon. A diversion dam was built to divert water from the wash to the ditch. When the rains finally came in July, the Independence Day celebration had cause for additional celebration. Residents celebrated by firing guns, fire crackers, Pie Nie, and a dance that evening. [8] Years later, The 4th of July would remain just as large a celebration in Heber. Alva Porter's Farm eventually became the rodeo grounds, where present day Mogollon High School sits. During celebrations, the community roped caves, rode bucking horses, held pistol shooting contests, foot races, and dances. [10]

20th century

Heber's first LDS Church Mormon Church Heber.jpg
Heber's first LDS Church

Alva Porter was married to Charlotte Shelly in 1899 and homesteaded just north of Heber in the Black Canyon. In 1901, Samuel Porter handed his farm over to his brother Alva, and departed from Heber. Porter's farm was located where today's Tenney trailer park, and the Mogollon ball fields stand. [8]

In 1904, severe drought caused hundreds of cattle belonging to the Aztec Land and Cattle Co. to die from thirst and hunger. During the spring, drinking water had to be hauled from 15 miles away. Many pioneers became disheartened and left the area. In late June, James Shelly and 2 sons desperately drove their cattle to "Blue Lake", found on the Apache reservation. They remained there until the rains came on July 20. Despite trespassing, the natives gave them no trouble. [8]

In 1912, after John Hoyle's death, Alva Porter purchased much of John Hoyle's merchandise and he and his brother-in-law Thomas Shelley started a new store close to John Hoyle's old one. Alva eventually sold his share to Thomas who ran the store with his wife, Eva Tanner, until 1957. The store would later become the "Heber Country Store" and later "IGA Supermarket".

In 1916, James, and Margaret Shelley returned to Joseph City, their final home. Three Shelley children: Sarah Ellen Shelley (husband Harvey Wimmer), Walter Shelley (wife Roxie Smith), and Eliza Marie Shelley (husband Loran Webb) joined them later. Two Shelley children: Amon Shelley (wife Elva Bigler), and John Edward Shelley (wife Fern Oliver), remained in Heber. [8]

Joseph Porter and Maude Shelley were granted a patent on John Hoyle's land in 1920. They homesteaded this land located in Buckskin Wash, just south of the Black Canyon. Thomas Shelly homesteaded south of Joseph Porter in Buckskin wash. Maude Shelley would later die in 1929. [8]

The Heber school district was established in 1921. Prior to this, children had to move to Joseph City in late fall, after crops were harvested, then return in early spring. The first year took place in Walter Shelley's house. Priscilla Shumway, from Snowflake, was the first teacher. The L.D.S. Church building doubled as a school during the 1930s and early 1940s. A new schoolhouse was planned. James L. Porter (Dobby), grandson to Sanford Porter, donated 80% of the land towards the new school house located where today's Capps Middle School now stands. [10]

Early day logging between Heber and Overgaard Heber loggers.jpg
Early day logging between Heber and Overgaard

By the 1930s, Heber had become a logging town. Horses were used to haul logs up until 1965. Logging and ranching were the predominant industries until the mid-90s, at which time the Mexican spotted owl injunction was put on the Sitgreaves National Forest. Bill Porter built the first sawmill in Heber just south of present-day HWY260 along the Black Canyon. This ran until 1935 when it burned down. In 1946 Lorin Donald (Donnie) Porter relocated his "Wagon Draw" sawmill to Heber. It ran until 1984 when a change of ownership was soon followed by bankruptcy. [10]

In 1936, Niels Kristian "Chris" Overgaard, who was the second son of a Danish family, moved to the United States with the intention of earning his living in the lumber mill business. [6] Some time later, he moved to Arizona from North Dakota, "lured by the lush stands of Ponderosa". [6] Modular mill pieces were hauled by train to nearby Holbrook, and then transported by wagon to "Overgaard’s stop". The sawmill was assembled across SR 260 from the present day Overgaard grocery store. [6] Mr. Overgaard ran the sawmill until financial reversals resulted in its sale. [6] He then moved with his wife to Ohio, forever leaving the area. [6] The sawmill was eventually replaced by a senior center that was later lost in the Rodeo–Chediski Fire in the summer of 2002. [6] The "Rim Country Senior/Community Center" has since been rebuilt. [12] Originally called "Oklahoma Flats", the town later changed its name in honor of Mr. Overgaard. [13] The post office in Overgaard was established on October 14, 1938. William T. Shockley served as the first postmaster in 1938, followed by Christ Overgaard in 1939. [14]

Upon moving to Heber in the 1950s, Mr. Brown Capps served as principal, and Mrs. Ella Capps as a teacher, of the Heber schoolhouse until his death in 1969. Capps Middle school gets its namesake from Brown and Ella Capps. In 1969-70, the Heber and Overgaard schools consolidated. [10] In 1978, the Capps gymnasium was built. Construction for Mogollon High School began June 12, 1989. It was named after the nearby Mogollon Rim. The buildings were dedicated January 18, 1990. Mountain Meadows Primary School was built in late 1999. [15]

On February 1, 1971, the local Sheriff's Posse formed a committee to promote the construction of a Fire Department for the Heber-Overgaard area. By March of the same year, land was secured for the location of the new Fire Department. In February 1972, the Sheriff Posse disbanded because some members had moved out of the area. In early 1973, the newly formed American Legion Post 86 took over the task of forming a Fire Department and Fire District for the area. They were able to obtain the signatures necessary to have an election called to form a Fire District. A petition was put together and used to propose the formation of a Fire District to the County Board of Supervisors. The American Legion put up the necessary funds to have an election. On June 4, 1973, by unanimous vote, the Heber-Overgaard Fire District was established. It had an area of 102 square miles. On June 14, Ivan Wilson was elected as the first Fire Chief of the new District and Larry Rhodes as the Secretary-Treasurer. Walt Downs and John Shaffery Sr. were the first two men to sign up as Firefighters. [16]

The first 4 July parade was held in 1976. [10]

Tall Timbers County Park TallTimbersCountyParkAZ.jpg
Tall Timbers County Park

On July 4, 1980, Les Parham, of Heber-Overgaard, put on his first of over 33 years of fireworks displays. Fundraising was spearheaded by the Heber-Overgaard Chamber of Commerce and was solely paid for by the contributions of viewers who enjoyed the show. The first show was held in what was once known as the Porter softball field, SW corner of Parkview and HW260, to an audience of several hundred. A country fried steak dinner fundraiser was held to cover expenses. Today, an audience in the thousands views the display at the Mogollon High School fields. This is primarily paid for by parking lot donations at the Tall Timbers County Park festivities and the Mogollon High School fireworks display. [17]

In 1988, Heber-Overgaard celebrated its first Oktoberfest event. [17] The event is currently held at Tall Timbers County Park.

On August 24, 1995, federal Judge Carl Muecke ordered the 11 national forests of Arizona and New Mexico to halt all logging until their forest plans adequately protect the Mexican spotted owl. The injunction was placed after a lawsuit was filed by Robin Silver, conservation chairman of the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity. [18] The controversial shutdown affected 8 large mills, several small mills and hundreds of jobs. [19] Many Heber-Overgaard residents were forced to relocate and find work elsewhere. [20] Black ribbons were placed throughout town to raise awareness of the situation, and to show support for the loggers and their families. [21] Environmentalists argued that "jobs would vanish no matter what, for if cutting continued at its current rate, the old-growth forests would be gone within thirty years and the mills forced to close anyhow". [22] The forests remained closed for over eight years. In 2002, the Parker Mill, in Clay Springs (16 miles away), and the Snowflake Mill (35 miles east) were two of the first mills to start up again. [20]

21st century

Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Bison Ranch Rodeo-Chediski Fire.jpg
Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Bison Ranch

In 2002, the Rodeo-Chediski fire was a wildfire that burned in Heber-Overgaard beginning on June 18, 2002, and was not controlled until July 7. It was the second worst forest fire in Arizona to date, destroying 268 structures in Heber-Overgaard, (mainly in Overgaard) and consuming 467,066 acres (1,890.15 km2). Overgaard was evacuated for nearly two weeks while the fire was fought. [20]

Founded in 2005 and opening to the public in 2017, the Apache-Sitgreaves Observatory offers public viewing of the night sky using the largest dedicated public telescope in Arizona. The 36-inch diameter telescope at Apache-Sitgreaves Observatory, bordering the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest on Overgaard's east side, has some of the darkest skies and is the closest observatory to the Phoenix metro area.

Today, Heber-Overgaard has evolved into a retirement and tourism destination. Recreational and lifestyle activities such as hiking and fishing can be enjoyed in the summer, and cross country skiing in the winter. With a four-seasons climate, the town is a haven for those wishing to escape the heat of Phoenix. [17] Land ownership in the Heber-Overgaard area is private, but surrounded by federally owned lands. [23] As of 2010, nearly 66% of the houses are second homes. While the full-time resident population is 2,822, [3] summertime population numbers climb to nearly 12,000. [20]


U.S. Census (2010) HeberOvergaardMap.png
U.S. Census (2010)

Heber-Overgaard is located in the southwestern United States, in the central-eastern portion of Arizona; about halfway between Payson to the southwest and Show Low to the southeast. By car, the town is approximately 144 miles (231.74 km) north of Phoenix, at the junction of SR 260 and SR 277. It lies at a mean elevation of 6,627 feet (2,020 m), [2] in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. The town is located in the White Mountains on the southern border of the Colorado Plateau and is surrounded by forest service land.

Other than Black Canyon and Buckskin Canyon in Heber, the topography of Heber-Overgaard ranges from rolling hills to flat meadows. Public roadways are maintained by "Navajo County Public Works" with graded dirt roads making up the majority of outlying roads. SR 260 and SR 277 are maintained by ADOT.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 6.9 square miles (18 km2), all of it land. With a population of 2,822, the density rate is approximately 411 people per square mile.

Nearest cities and towns


April snow in Heber-Overgaard Heber Snow.JPG
April snow in Heber-Overgaard

Heber-Overgaard has an atypical version of a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa) with a dry period in early summer followed by heavy monsoonal thunderstorms and rain from frontal cloudbands in the cooler months. Like more typical Mediterranean climates, however, forest fires tend to be extremely prevalent during dry summer periods.

Flora and fauna

Bull Elk Rocky Mountain Bull Elk.jpg
Bull Elk
Pinyon-juniper woodland west of Overgaard Pinyon-juniper woodland, Arizona.jpg
Pinyon-juniper woodland west of Overgaard

While some of the native flora and fauna of the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest can be found within town limits, most are found in the rural and the undeveloped forest areas surrounding Heber-Overgaard.

Native mammal species include antelope, Arizona gray squirrel, beaver, black bear, coyote, deer mouse, desert cottontail rabbit, elk, gopher, ground squirrel, gray fox, harvest mouse, hog-nosed skunk, jackrabbit, javelina, kit fox, Mexican wolf, mountain cottontail, mountain lion, mule deer, porcupine, raccoon, red squirrel, rock squirrel, striped skunk, white-footed mouse, white-tailed deer, and various bats. [25]

There are many species of native birds, including the acorn woodpecker, crow, bald eagle, broad-tailed hummingbird, cooper's hawk, flammulated owl, gambel's quail, golden eagle, greater roadrunner, great horned owl, hairy woodpecker, hooded oriole, pinon jay, red-tailed hawk, kestrel, northern cardinal, robin, steller's jay, raven, turkey vulture, wild turkey, and western bluebird as well as a variety of songbirds. [26] [25]

The area is also home to a number of native reptile species including several types of venomous rattlesnakes (Arizona black rattlesnake, prairie rattlesnake, and western black-tailed rattlesnake); mildly venomous snakes (black-necked gartersnake, narrowhead garter snake and western terrestrial garter snake); and non-venomous snakes California kingsnake, glossy snake, gopher snake, long-nosed snake, striped whipsnake, and the ringneck snake. Lizards include eastern collared lizard, greater short-horned lizard, ornate tree lizard, plateau fence lizard, sagebrush lizard and several types of whiptails. Skinks include the great plains skink and the many-lined skink. [25]

Native amphibian species include the American bullfrog, Arizona toad, Arizona tree frog, canyon tree frog, chiricahua leopard frog, Couch's spadefoot toad, great plains toad, Mexican spadefoot, northern leopard frog, plains spadefoot, red-spotted toad, western tiger salamander and the Woodhouse's toad. [25]

The town and the surrounding areas are also home to a wide variety of native invertebrates including the Arizona blond tarantula, black widow, cottonwood stag beetle, Grant's hercules beetle, gray bird grasshopper, gray hairstreak butterfly, monarch butterfly, painted lady butterfly, sonoran desert centipede, tarantula hawk wasp, ten-lined june beetle, and wolf spider as well as a variety of moths. [25]

Heber-Overgaard is located in the transition zone between montane conifer forest and pinyon-juniper woodland. Local flora include open forest dominated by ponderosa pine pines, pinyon pines (Colorado pinion and single-leaf pinyon) and low, bushy, evergreen junipers (alligator juniper, California juniper, sierra juniper, and Utah juniper). Other flora include the Arizona thistle, birdbill dayflower, blue grama, camphorweed, cardinal catchfly, Colorado four o'clock, Cooley's bundleflower, desert portulaca, dwarf stickpea, fragrant sumac, hairy grama, horsetail milkweed, narrowleaf yucca, pinewoods geranium, pygmy bluet, ragleaf bahia, redroot buckwheat, sideoats grama, southwestern cosmos, southwestern prickly poppy, starvation prickly-pear, threadleaf groundsel, thyme-leafed spurge, twist spine prickly pear, upright prairie coneflower, virgate scorpionweed, viviparous foxtail cactus, western spiderwort, wholeleaf indian paintbrush, wild potato, winged buckwheat, woolly locoweed, and Wyoming indian paintbrush. [25] Local noxious and invasive weeds include morning-glory, mullein, oxeye daisy, tansy ragwort, whitetop, and various thistles. [27]


Historical population
1990 1,581
2000 2,72272.2%
2010 2,8223.7%
Est. 20162,736 [4] −3.0%
source: [3]

As of the census [3] of 2010, there were 2,822 people, 1,236 occupied households, and 814 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 408.9 people per square mile (156.8/km²). There were 3,593 housing units at an average density of 520.7 per square mile (199.6/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 90.2% White, 0.2% Black or African American, 2.1% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 4.5% from other races, and 2.5% from two or more races. 11.6% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. [3]

There were 1,236 households out of which 19.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.9% were married couples living together, 3.7% had a male householder with no wife present, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 29.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 45.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.21 and the average family size was 2.66. [3]

In the CDP, the population was spread out with 5.8% under the age of 5, 5.5% from 5 to 9, 4.7% from 10 to 14, 5.4% from 15 to 19, 3.0% from 20 to 24, 3.9% from 25 to 29, 3.3% from 30 to 34, 3.6% from 35 to 39, 3.8% from 40 to 44, 6.1% from 45 to 49, 7.9% from 50 to 54, 8.1% from 55 to 59, 10.7% from 60 to 64, 11.3% from 65 to 69, 7.8% from 70 to 74, 4.1% from 75 to 79, 3.1% from 80 to 84, and 1.9% who were 85 years of age or older. The median age was 53.1 years. Total population was 50.6% male / 49.4% female. 41.0% of males were 18 years of age or older. 39.5% of females were 18 years of age or older. [3]

The median income for a household in the CDP was $29,219, the median income for a family was $29,609, and median income for non-family was $12,194. Males had a median full-time, year-round income of $51,746 versus $31,518 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $12,893. About 24.7% of families and 25.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.2% of those under age 18, 21.7% age 18 - 64, and 0% of those age 65 or over. [3]


Retirement and tourism are an important part of the Heber-Overgaard economy. Proximity to the Sitgreaves National Forest provides recreational opportunities, and timber is harvested for Precision Pine Sawmill and Stone Container Paper Mill. A mulch plant processes forest by-products. [28]

Service businesses provide employment and services for the predominant retirement community. Government and schools also contribute to the local economy. Retail trade is increasing. Construction is also a major factor in the area's gradually expanding economy. [28]

Parks and outdoor recreation

Petroglyphs in Heber, AZ HeberPetroglyphs.jpg
Petroglyphs in Heber, AZ

Heber-Overgaard offers multiple community facilities including a library, 40-acre park, astronomical observatory, aviation airpark and a number of athletic facilities: baseball, football and Little League fields; basketball, volleyball, tennis and racquet ball courts, and a 9-hole regulation length golf course. [28]

Immediately south of Heber-Overgaard is the Mogollon Rim, a steep escarpment ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 feet from the base to the highest plateau. The Rim divides the northern plateau region from the lower central and southern areas. The Rim offers scenic views and numerous man-made lakes ideal for fishing. [28]

Hunting for elk, deer, turkey, antelope and bear is permitted. Fishing, in nearby trout streams, is popular. There are also picnic and camping facilities available within the area. Other scenic attractions in the area include Black Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery, Chevelon Butte, and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. [28]

Public services

Heber-Overgaard is unincorporated, and governed by the Navajo County Board of Supervisors. Education, fire and police services are provided by the county.


Mountain Meadows Primary School in Heber-Overgaard, AZ Mountain Meadows Primary School.jpg
Mountain Meadows Primary School in Heber-Overgaard, AZ

Heber-Overgaard Unified School District serves Heber-Overgaard. Mountain Meadows Primary School, Capps Middle School, Mogollon Junior High School, and Mogollon High School serve the community. Student enrollment is approximately 551.

Northland Pioneer College, a state-accredited community college, serves Navajo County remotely via satellite. The college has centers located in Holbrook, Show Low, Snowflake/Taylor, and Winslow. [28]

Police and fire department

Heber-Overgaard Fire District Heber-Overgaard Fire District.jpg
Heber-Overgaard Fire District

The community is served by the sheriff's posse, county deputies, and the Department of Public Safety.

The fire department has 3 paramedics, 5 IMETs, 15 EMTs, and 40 volunteers. [28]

Notable residents

See also

Related Research Articles

Mogollon Rim mountain range

The Mogollon Rim is a topographical and geological feature cutting across the U.S. state of Arizona. It extends approximately 200 miles (320 km), starting in northern Yavapai County and running eastward, ending near the border with New Mexico. It forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau in Arizona.

White Mountains (Arizona)

The White Mountains of Arizona are a mountain range and mountainous region in the eastern part of the state, near the border with New Mexico; it is a continuation from the west of the Arizona transition zone–Mogollon Rim, with the Rim ending in western New Mexico. The White Mountains are a part of the Colorado Plateau high country of Northeast Arizona, the Navajo Nation, with the rest of the Plateau in eastern Utah, northwest New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. Nearby communities include Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, Greer, Springerville, Eagar, and McNary. Much of the range is within the Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests Apache-Sitgraves National Forest

The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests are two 2.76-million-acre (11,169 km2) United States National Forests which run along the Mogollon Rim and the White Mountains in east-central Arizona and into the U.S. state of New Mexico. Both forests are managed as one unit by USDA Forest Service from the forests Supervisors Office in Springerville, Arizona. Apache-Sitgreaves has over 400 species of wildlife. With its high elevation and cool summer breezes it is a popular weekend destination from the hot desert for Phoenix, Arizona residents. The forest is divided into 5 Ranger Districts that span almost 300 miles (480 km) from Clifton, Arizona in the east-central portion of Arizona to the eastern boundary of the Coconino National Forest in north-central Arizona. The Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest borders the western and northern borders of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. It is located in parts of Greenlee, Apache, Navajo, and Coconino counties in eastern and east-central Arizona, and Catron County in western New Mexico. The more northwesterly Sitgreaves National Forest portion lies adjacent to the north side of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and is located entirely in Arizona, within Navajo, Apache, and Coconino counties. It has a total area of 818,651 acres (3,313 km2). The more southeasterly and much larger Apache National Forest portion lies adjacent to the east side of the Fort Apache and the San Carlos Indian Reservations. It lies on both sides of the border with New Mexico, in Greenlee, Catron, and Apache counties. It has a total area of 1,813,601 acres (7,339 km2).

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Alpine, Arizona Census-designated place in Arizona, United States

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Northeast Arizona

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Blue Range Wilderness

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Chevelon Canyon Lake is a small reservoir located in northern Arizona, about 15 mi (24 km) west of the city of Heber. It is one in a series of small, canyon-bound lakes located on the Mogollon Rim, collectively referred to as the Rim Lakes. It is among the most difficult to access in the region. It is also the second reservoir on Chevelon Creek, downstream from Woods Canyon Lake. Chevelon Creek drains to the northeast all the way to the Little Colorado River.

Woods Canyon Lake lake in Arizona, United States

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Forest Lakes Estates, Arizona CDP in Arizona, United States

Forest Lakes is a small unincorporated community in Coconino County in the northern part of the U.S. state of Arizona. It is located on the edge of the Mogollon Rim and is in close proximity to several recreational lakes within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and is named for such.

Black Canyon Lake is a lake in Navajo County, Arizona, United States.

Chevelon Creek river in the United States of America

Chevelon Creek is located in the Mogollon Rim area of the state of Arizona. The closest town Heber is 18 miles away. The facilities are maintained by Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest division of the USDA Forest Service.

Sitgreaves National Forest was established by the U.S. Forest Service in Arizona on July 1, 1908 with 749,084 acres (3,031.44 km2) from portions of Black Mesa and Tonto National Forests. In 1974 entire forest was administratively combined with Apache National Forest to create Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The Sitgreaves National Forest is located in the southern parts of Navajo, Coconino, and Apache counties. It had an area of 818,749 acres (3,313.4 km²) as of 30 September 2008. There are local ranger district offices in Lakeside and Overgaard.

Mogollon High School High school in Arizona, United States

Mogollon High School (MHS) is a public high school located in Heber, Arizona, United States. It opened in 1991 and is the only high school under the jurisdiction of the Heber-Overgaard Unified School District. The school enrolls an estimated 120 students in grades 9–12, and operates on a traditional school calendar. Mogollon's colors are Red, Silver and Black and the teams are collectively called the Mustangs. The school is a member of the Arizona Interscholastic Association's 1A Central Athletics Conference and competes in Division Division IV sports.

The Heber-Overgaard Unified School District (HOUSD) is a school district with its headquarters in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona. The 6.86-square-mile (17.8 km2) district serves Heber, Overgaard, and the Forest Lakes area. The district consists of 4 schools; all are title 1 schools.

Willow Springs Lake Lake in Coconino County, Arizona, U.S.

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