Colorado City, Arizona

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Colorado City, Arizona
Colorado City sign
Colorado City sign
Location in Mohave County, Arizona
Location in Mohave County, Arizona
Colorado City is located in Arizona
Colorado City
Colorado City
Colorado City is located in the United States
Colorado City
Colorado City
Coordinates: 36°59′25″N 112°58′33″W / 36.99028°N 112.97583°W / 36.99028; -112.97583Coordinates: 36°59′25″N 112°58′33″W / 36.99028°N 112.97583°W / 36.99028; -112.97583[1]
CountryUnited States
 • TypeCouncil–manager[2]
 • MayorJoseph Allred[3]
 • Total9.21 sq mi (23.84 km2)
 • Land9.20 sq mi (23.82 km2)
 • Water0.01 sq mi (0.02 km2)
4,977 ft (1,517 m)
 • Total2,478
 • Density269.41/sq mi (104.02/km2)
Time zoneUTC-7 (MST)
ZIP code
Area code928
FIPS code04-14870

Colorado City is a town in Mohave County, Arizona, United States, and is located in a region known as the Arizona Strip. As of the 2020 census, the population of the town was 2,478,[5] down from 4,821 in 2010.[6] At least three Mormon fundamentalist sects are said to have been based there.[7] A majority of residents and many local officials belong to the most prominent of these sects, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose corporation also owned much of the land within and around the town until state intervention in the 2000s.


Colorado City, formerly known as "Short Creek" (or the Short Creek Community), was founded in 1913[8] by members of the Council of Friends, a breakaway group from the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church). The Council of Friends membership desired a remote location where they could practice plural marriage, which had been publicly abandoned by the LDS Church in 1890. On July 26, 1953, Arizona Governor John Howard Pyle sent troops into the settlement to stop polygamy in what became known as the Short Creek raid.[9] The two-year legal battle that followed became a public relations disaster that damaged Pyle's political career and set a hands-off tone toward the town in Arizona for the next 50 years.[10]

After the death of Joseph W. Musser, the community split into two groups: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints stayed in Short Creek, while the Apostolic United Brethren relocated to Bluffdale, Utah. The FLDS changed the name of the community to Colorado City (on the Arizona side of the border) and Hildale (on the Utah side) to eliminate any ties to the Short Creek raids.[8]

In January 2004, local FLDS fundamentalist leader Warren Jeffs expelled a group of 20 men, including the mayor, and gave their wives and children to other men.[11] Jeffs, now a convicted sexual predator, stated he was acting on the orders of God, while the men expelled claimed they were penalized for disagreeing with Jeffs. Observers stated[by whom?] that this was the most severe split to date within the community other than the split between Colorado City and Centennial Park. According to the Utah attorney general's office, this was not the first time Jeffs was accused of expelling men from the community; as many as 400 young men are estimated to have been expelled by Jeffs from 2001 to 2006. Most were removed for failing to follow Jeffs' rules, or for dating women without his permission. Many of these expelled men and boys were very naïve and sheltered, and often wound up homeless in nearby towns such as Hurricane and St. George, Utah. Jeffs was placed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list and eventually arrested on August 28, 2006.[12]

Most of the property in the town was owned by the United Effort Plan, a real estate trust of the FLDS.[13] In 2007 the state authorities began dismantling church ownership of Colorado City lands.[14] The FLDS church retaliated and indoctrinated their followers against the state, believing they were being targeted because of their beliefs. The FLDS followers became further secluded as a result. Remaining FLDS members refuse to believe the charges against Jeffs.[15]

On April 6, 2010, law enforcement officials in Mohave County, Arizona, and Washington County, Utah, served five search warrants seeking records from town officers. The warrants were served on government officials and departments, including the Town Manager, David Darger, as well as Colorado City's fire chief Jacob Barlow. As a result of the initial warrants, the Hildale-Colorado City Department of Public Safety was shut down, and emergency responders were prohibited from responding to calls without the approval of county officials. Firefighter Glen Jeffs indicated that the warrants referenced "misuse of funds".[16][17]

In response to a civil rights lawsuit by the United States Justice Department alleging that the Colorado City government, including law enforcement, was taking orders from the FLDS Church, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne announced in July 2012 that he was allocating funding to allow the Mohave County Sheriff's Department to provide daily patrols in the town.[18]

On March 20, 2014, a jury hearing the case of Cooke et al v. Colorado City, Town of et al[19] ruled that the towns of Colorado City and Hildale had discriminated against Ronald and Jinjer Cooke because they were not members of the FLDS Church.[20] The Cookes were awarded $5.2 million for "religious discrimination".[20] The Cooke family had moved to the Short Creek area in 2008 but were refused access to utilities by the towns of Colorado City and Hildale.[21] As a result of the ruling, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued a press release stating that he "wants to eradicate discrimination in two polygamous towns" and believes that the court ruling will give him the tools to do it.[22]

Geography and climate[edit]

The landscape surrounding Colorado City in 2014

Colorado City is located in northeastern Mohave County at 36°59′25″N 112°58′33″W / 36.99028°N 112.97583°W / 36.99028; -112.97583 (36.99026, -112.97577)[1] Its northern border is the ArizonaUtah state line, with the town of Hildale, Utah, to the north. Arizona State Route 389 passes through the center of town, leading east 31 miles (50 km) to Fredonia. To the north, Route 389 becomes Utah State Route 59, which leads northwest 22 miles (35 km) to Hurricane.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 9.2 square miles (24 km2), of which 0.01 square miles (0.03 km2), or 0.09%, are water.[4]

Colorado City has the typical cool semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk) of the interior Mountain West, with very warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters, typified by very large diurnal temperature ranges throughout most of the year. The hottest day on record was July 5, 1985, with 108 °F (42 °C). Rainfall is lowest from April to June, but is never particularly high on average, though during strong extratropical low pressure systems, as much as 5 inches (130 mm) may occasionally fall during a month.[23] The wettest year has been 1998 with 26.36 inches (669.5 mm), though only 2005 has otherwise received over 20 inches (508 mm), whilst the driest year since 1963 has been 2009 with 6.45 inches (163.8 mm).[23] Snowfall is relatively light; the most in a month was in January 1982 with 29.0 inches (0.74 m) and that winter had the most for a year with 46.50 inches (1.181 m). The highest daily snow depth was however on February 2, 1979, with 13 inches (0.33 m).

Climate data for Colorado City, Arizona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 70
Average high °F (°C) 48.7
Average low °F (°C) 23.2
Record low °F (°C) −9
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.40
Average snowfall inches (cm) 6.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 5.7 6.2 7.0 4.0 3.6 2.1 5.5 6.6 4.2 4.7 4.5 4.4 58.5
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 inch) 2.5 2.2 2.1 0.7 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.0 1.7 10.4
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration[24]


Historical population
Census Pop.
U.S. Decennial Census[25]

As of the census of 2000, there were 3,334 people, 444 households, and 417 families residing in the town. The population density was 317.3 inhabitants per square mile (122.5/km2). There were 457 housing units at an average density of 43.5 per square mile (16.8/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.9% white, 0.2% black or African American, 0.1% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 1.8% from other races, and 0.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.9% of the population.

Of the 444 households, 83.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 85.8% were married couples living together, 3.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 5.9% were non-families. 4.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 1.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 7.51 and the average family size was 7.58. Colorado City had the fourth-highest household size in the nation, based on the 2012 5-Year American Community Survey count of an average household size of 8.04 people by zip code tabulation area.[26]

In the town, the population was spread out, with 60.4% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 20.2% from 25 to 44, 6.3% from 45 to 64, and 1.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 14 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $32,826, and the median income for a family was $32,344. Males had a median income of $24,429 versus $22,969 for females. The per capita income for the town was $5,293. About 29.0% of families and 31.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 34.5% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.

The Colorado City/Hildale, Utah area has the world's highest incidence of fumarase deficiency, an extremely rare genetic condition which causes severe intellectual disability. Geneticists attribute this to the prevalence of cousin marriage between descendants of two of the town's founders, Joseph Smith Jessop and John Y. Barlow; at least half the area's roughly 8,000 inhabitants are descended from one or both.[27]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Colorado City, AZ/Hildale, UT Post Office

The United States Postal Service operates the Colorado City, AZ/Hildale, UT Post Office in Colorado City.[28]


Mohave Community College North Mohave Campus

Colorado City is a part of the Colorado City Unified School District. There is only one school, the El Capitan School (formerly the Colorado City K–12 Public School), in Colorado City. Many FLDS-affiliated board members resigned due to the political takeover of the district.[citation needed]

The Arizona state government attempted to take over the district in 2005 due to mismanagement.[29][30][31]

In addition to the district public school, there is a charter school, Masada Charter School, serving students in grades K–9. The charter school is outside of the Colorado City town limits in the community of Centennial Park.

The Mohave Community College North Mohave Campus is in Colorado City.[32]

Notable people[edit]

Twin city[edit]


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Colorado City, Arizona
  2. ^ "General Administration". Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Town Council". Archived from the original on February 29, 2020. Retrieved December 26, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "2021 U.S. Gazetteer Files: Arizona". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Colorado City town, Arizona: 2020 DEC Redistricting Data (PL 94-171)". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  6. ^ "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  7. ^ Krakauer, Jon. Under the Banner of Heaven", 2003. New York: Random House, ISBN 1-4000-3280-6 p.[page needed]
  8. ^ a b Zoellner, Tom (June 28, 1998), "Polygamy: Throughout its history, Colorado City has been home for those who believe in virtues of plural marriage", The Salt Lake Tribune, p. J1, Archive Article ID: 100F28A4D3D36BEC (NewsBank), archived from the original on May 5, 2000
  9. ^ Kelly, David (January 27, 2004). "The Eyes of Outsiders Are Cast on a Polygamous Community". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  10. ^ Young, Neil (April 16, 2008), "Short Creek's Long Legacy", Slate, archived from the original on July 12, 2015
  11. ^ Duara, Nigel (March 10, 2016). "Polygamous sect's control of Utah and Arizona towns seems certain to end after jury's verdict". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  12. ^ "The lost boys of Colorado City" Archived April 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine by Kimberly Sevcik, Salon, July 6, 2006.
  13. ^ Montero, David (July 5, 2018). "Once zealously controlled by a religious sect, a small town tries to rehab its image — with beer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  14. ^ Polygamists get unusual offer, CNN (AP), January 10, 2008, archived from the original on May 12, 2008
  15. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (November 24, 2021). "'Keep Sweet' Review: A Legacy of Polygamy in a Religious Sect". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  16. ^ Demasters, Tiffany (April 6, 2010). "Officials shut down Hildale public safety department". The Spectrum & Daily News. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  17. ^ Erin Taylor (August 18, 2011). "Colorado City chief indicted". Daily Miner.
  18. ^ Newcomb, Alyssa (July 7, 2012). "Outside Police to Patrol Polygamist Community". ABC. Retrieved August 12, 2012.
  19. ^ "Cooke et al v. Colorado City, Town of et al". Arizona District Court (azd) Docket Number: 3:10-cv-08105. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Dalrymple, Jim II (March 20, 2014). "Family wins lawsuit against polygamous towns, gets millions". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  21. ^ Dobner, Jennifer (January 29, 2014). "Arizona couple living near polygamous sect sues for discrimination". Reuters. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  22. ^ Dalrymple, Jim II (March 21, 2014). "Arizona AG plans to 'eradicate' discrimination in polygamous towns". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on March 25, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2014.
  23. ^ a b "Colorado City, Arizona – Climate Summary".
  24. ^ "Climatic Averages for the United States 1971–2000: Colorado City, AZ" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved March 31, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  25. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2016.
  26. ^ Average Household Size of Occupied Housing Units by Tenure. 2008–2012 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. Geographies: Zip Code Tabulation Areas. "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 21, 2016.
  27. ^ "Forbidden Fruit" Archived April 20, 2015, at the Wayback Machine by John Dougherty, Phoenix New Times, December 29, 2005
  28. ^ "Post Office™ Location – Colorado City Archived June 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." United States Post Office. Retrieved on March 20, 2011.
  29. ^ Arizona Wants Control Of Colorado City Schools, KUTV (AP), August 11, 2005, archived from the original on September 26, 2007
  30. ^ "State officials prepare to seize control of Colorado City school district".
  31. ^ Colorado City Response to 4-19-04 editorial Archived June 25, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ "North Mohave Campus Archived November 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine." Mohave Community College. Retrieved on March 20, 2011. "Street Address: 480 South Central, Colorado City, AZ 86021"

External links[edit]