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Sierra Vista
Sierra Vista, AZ City Hall
Sierra Vista, AZ City Hall
Hummingbird Capital of the United States
Location of Sierra Vista in Cochise County, Arizona
Location of Sierra Vista in Cochise County, Arizona
Sierra Vista, Arizona is located in Arizona
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Location in Arizona
Sierra Vista, Arizona is located in the United States
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Sierra Vista, Arizona
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  Arizona
County Cochise
Incorporated 1956
 • Total 152.51 sq mi (395.00 km2)
 • Land 152.25 sq mi (394.33 km2)
 • Water 0.26 sq mi (0.68 km2)
4,633 ft (1,412 m)
 • Total 45,308
 • Density 297.59/sq mi (114.90/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (MST (no DST))
ZIP codes
Area code 520
FIPS code 04-66820

Sierra Vista is a city in Cochise County, Arizona, United States. According to the 2020 Census, the population of the city is 45,308, and is the 27th most populous city in Arizona. The city is part of the Sierra Vista-Douglas Metropolitan Area, with a 2010 population of 131,346. Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army post, has been incorporated and is located in the northwest part of the city. Sierra Vista is bordered by the cities of Huachuca City and Whetstone to the north and Sierra Vista Southeast to the South.

Sierra Vista, Spanish for 'mountain view', is 75 miles (121 km) southeast of Tucson and serves as the main commercial, cultural, and recreational hub of Cochise County. Sierra Vista is located on the southwestern side of Cochise County and is 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Tombstone, 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Bisbee, and 15 miles (24 km) from the border of Mexico. The closest port of entry to Mexico is Naco in the Mexican state of Sonora which is 24 miles (39 km) from Sierra Vista to the southeast. Sierra Vista is home to University of Arizona, College of Applied Science and Technology, a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) designated Intelligence Community - Center of Academic Excellence (IC-CAE) university, Cochise College, and Wick Communications, a media company operating 27 newspapers and 18 specialty publications in 11 states.


At the end of the Apache Wars, with the protection of Fort Huachuca and the completion of the Southern Pacific and El Paso & Southwestern railroads, the San Pedro Valley began to populate. Oliver Fry and his two oldest sons traveled from Texas on the railroad and settled on 320 acres (1.3 km2) just outside Fort Huachuca around 1901.

The first business that opened just outside the east gate of Fort Huachuca was a saloon and house of ill repute owned by John and Ellen Reilly opened in 1892. In 1911, Margaret Carmichael bought the Reilly homestead and business. By 1913, Margaret Carmichael had leased the business back to the Reillys. Also in 1913, a group of dry land farmers settled in the local area and named their settlement Buena. Buena was located east of Garden Canyon on a railroad whistle-stop between Lewis Springs and Fort Huachuca. At this site was a post office and a school house that served children in Buena, Garden Canyon and outreaches of the local area.

By 1917, the Overton Post Office was established. This settlement's name came from the Overton Mercantile and Investment Company, who took option on the Carmichael property with plans to develop a townsite outside of Fort Huachuca. However, it is believed that the company was unable to persuade anyone to move to the area so when the option expired, the Carmichaels took back the property and a general mercantile store.

In 1918, the Carmichaels changed the name of the store and were the proprietors of the "Garden Canyon". Garden Canyon was also the name of the post office and Carmichael was the postmaster. In addition, the Carmichaels built a home across the street from Garden Canyon store, as well as 18 rock houses, on Garden Avenue. From 1927 to 1938, the Frys rented the Carmichael store.

In 1955, the first attempt to incorporate and rename the area was rejected, as Fry opposed both incorporating and renaming the town that bore his family name. In 1956, the ballot issue failed 76 to 61. People who owned land outside of Fry's property went forward with incorporation and renaming by petition on May 26, 1956, excluding the half-square-mile owned by Fry.

Sierra Vista was incorporated in 1956, and has a population of over 43,000 today. The city is the economic and commercial center of Cochise County, and northern Sonora, Mexico. Sierra Vista annexed Fort Huachuca, a U.S. military base, one of the largest employers in Arizona, and the adjacent community, in 1971.

Sierra Vista was the site of the first McDonald's drive thru, which opened in 1975.


Sierra Vista is located in southwestern Cochise County at 31°32′44″N 110°16′35″W / 31.54556°N 110.27639°W / 31.54556; -110.27639 (31.545498, -110.276500). It is bordered on the northwest by the much smaller town of Huachuca City.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 152.5 square miles (395.1 km2), of which 152.3 square miles (394.4 km2) is land and 0.27 square miles (0.7 km2) is water. It is located 4,623 feet (1,409 m) above sea level. Sierra Vista is flanked on the southwest side by the Huachuca Mountains, with Miller Peak rising to 9,466 feet (2,885 m) and Carr Peak to 9,236 feet (2,815 m), both south of the city limits. The city is accessible via Arizona State Routes 90 and 92. The San Pedro River flows just east of the city limits.

Sierra vista map
Geography surrounding Sierra Vista


Huachuca Mountains in the Winter2
Huachuca Mountains in the winter

In the Köppen climate classification system, Sierra Vista falls within the typical cold semi-arid climate (BSk) of mid-altitude Arizona. Fall and spring, like most other parts of Arizona, are very dry. Winters are cool to cold with frosts which can occasionally be hard freezes; frost can be expected to stop in mid- to late April. Spring, like fall, spends about half of itself within the frost season. Summer starts off dry, but progressively gets wetter as the monsoon season approaches. The city has a fairly stable climate with very little humidity. However, the North American Monsoon can bring torrential rains during the months of July and August and will produce almost half the yearly rainfall in just those two months alone. Due to the dry climate the rest of the year and the city’s high elevation, daily winter low temperatures range from 20 to 30 °F (−6.7 to −1.1 °C) on average and up to 50 °F (10.0 °C) on rare occasions when moist fronts bring warm air from the Gulf of California. Snow is not a common sight on the streets of Sierra Vista though some years the city can receive several inches of snow and other years it will receive none. However, a snow-capped Miller Peak and Carr Peak in the Huachuca Mountains is a common sight for four to five months every year.

  • The highest recorded temperature was 108 °F (42 °C) in 1989.
  • The lowest recorded temperature was 3 °F (−16 °C) in 2011.
  • The maximum average rainfall occurs in August.
Climate data for Sierra Vista, Arizona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 81
Average high °F (°C) 61.2
Average low °F (°C) 34.2
Record low °F (°C) 12
Average rainfall inches (mm) 0.98
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.3
Average rainy days (≥ 0.01 in) 4 4 2 2 1 2 11 12 5 3 2 4 52
Source: National Weather Service, Tucson

Parks and outdoors

Montezuma Pass at Coronado National Memorial. The United States / Mexican border fence can be seen in the middle of this photograph. Mexico is on the right / south side of the fence.

Nicknamed the "Hummingbird Capital of the United States", the city sees bird watchers from all over the world flock to the nearby Ramsey Canyon Preserve and other local canyons to observe and photograph hundreds of different bird species. Other outdoor sightseeing and recreational opportunities that are nearby include the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, the Coronado National Memorial in the Huachuca Mountains, and Parker Canyon Lake. Excellent views of the clear night sky have led Sierra Vista to become the chosen center of amateur astronomy in Arizona, with more than a dozen well equipped amateur observatories in the area and a large observatory at the University of Arizona South within the city limits.

The Cove

The Sierra Vista Aquatic Center, aka "The Cove," is a 36,500-square-foot (3,390 m2) facility that contains 11,347 sq ft (1,054.2 m2) of pool water surface, which equates to over 575,000 US gallons (2,180,000 L; 479,000 imp gal) of water. The Aquatic Center boasts a 0' depth, or "beach", entry, eight 25-yard lap lanes for lap and competitive swimming, and a wave machine with several wave patterns for Open Swim. The Cove has a submersible bulkhead which makes the switch from wave pool to competitive pool possible. The Cove also has a warm water therapy pool, children's lagoon with slide, two 1 meter diving boards and one 3 meter diving board, and two enclosed water tube slides to include a 150-foot (46 m) water tube slide.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1960 3,121
1970 6,689 114.3%
1980 24,937 272.8%
1990 32,983 32.3%
2000 37,775 14.5%
2010 43,888 16.2%
2020 45,308 3.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

Sierra Vista is the largest of seven incorporated cities in Cochise County, accounting for one-third of the county's population. The population at the 2020 census was 45,308, up from 43,888 at the 2010 census, for a growth rate of 3.2% over the decade. Sierra Vista is the 21st largest incorporated place in Arizona as of the 2010 census.

Also indicated in the CER 2009 Economic Outlook publication, the Arizona DEC estimates the Sierra Vista Area population is approximately 75,000, which includes outlying areas of the Sierra Vista Southeast Census Designated Place, Huachuca City, Tombstone, Whetstone, Hereford and unincorporated surrounding areas. The population of the Sierra Vista Area is estimated to reach nearly 100,000 by 2028.

Sierra Vista - Saint Andrew the Apostle church - 1
Saint Andrew the Apostle Church

According to the 2000 Census figures, the Sierra Vista population consists of 14,196 households, and 9,993 families residing in the city. The population density was 246.1 people per square mile (95.0/km2). There were 15,685 housing units at an average density of 102.2 per square mile (39.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 73.3% White, 10.9% Black or African American, 3.6% Asian, 0.8% Native American and 0.5% Pacific Islander. 6.1% of the population is from other races, and 4.9% from two or more races. 15.8% of the population is Hispanic or Latino.

There were 14,196 households, out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.5% were married couples living together, 25.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.48 and the average family size was 2.96.

In the city, the age distribution of the population shows 25.8% under the age of 18, 13.0% from 18 to 24, 29.2% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 100.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.7 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $38,427, and the median income for a family was $44,077. Males had a median income of $30,053 versus $23,805 for females. The per capita income for the city was $18,436. About 8.0% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.8% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.

As of the 2000 Census, of the population (37,775) 25 years and older 91.5 percent had at least a high school diploma or equivalent and an estimated 25.7 percent held a bachelor's degree or higher. The CER indicates that there has been an increasing trend for residents to attain a bachelor's degree or higher making the local area competitive in today's technological working environment. The estimated population of resident's educated at a post-secondary level (some college credit or more) in Sierra Vista is estimated to be higher than county, state, and national averages.

Notable people

Glynn R. Donaho
Vice Admiral Donaho
  • Jessica Cox, first licensed pilot and first black belt in the American Taekwondo Society born without arms.
  • Vice Admiral Glynn R. Donaho, World War II Submarine Commander awarded the Navy Cross four times.
  • Patricia "Pat" Fleming, former Democratic member of the Arizona House of Representatives.
  • Don Frye, mixed martial arts fighter, UFC 8 and Ultimate Ultimate 2 champion.
  • Major General David Parker Gibbs, former Chief of Communications and Electronics for the Department of the Army.
  • Laurence Gibson, American professional National Football League player drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
  • David Gowan, Republican Senator in the Arizona State Senate and the former Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives.
  • Vickie Hall, Miss Arizona 1975 who succeeded original Miss Arizona winner Stacey Peterson when Peterson resigned.
  • Russ Klabough, American soccer player who currently plays for FC Arizona in the National Premier Soccer League.
  • Yvonne Navarro, Bram Stoker Award Winning and Best Selling author of more than twenty five books and a core Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel contributors.
  • Erin Nurss, Miss Arizona 2008.
  • Weston Ochse, Bram Stoker Award Winning and Best Selling author of more than thirty books.
  • Nicole Powell, basketball player on the WNBA team New York Liberty.
  • Adam Saathoff, American sport shooter for the National Running Target Team. Three time Olympic competitor for Team USA and silver and bronze medalists in 1998 and 2002 World Championships respectively.
  • Audrey Sibley, Miss Arizona 2005.
  • Glenn Spencer, anti-immigration activist and operator of American Border Patrol.
  • David Stevens, form Republican member of the Arizona House of Representatives.
  • Young Seph, American music producer and songwriter. He has produced for artists such as 50 Cent, Jim Jones, Lloyd Banks, Troy Ave, Rocko, Young Buck, and Havoc.


Pictographs in the Huachuca Mountains
Pictographs in the Huachuca Mountains

Sierra Vista has a variety of cultural and family-oriented activities throughout the year. Some of the major events include the Cochise Cowboy Poetry and Music Gathering in February, the Festival of the Southwest in the spring, Independence Day celebration, the Southwest Wings Festival in August for bird watching enthusiasts, and Arizona's longest-running holiday parade in December. During the winter months, the Sierra Vista Symphony Orchestra presents three concerts of classical and popular music, including pre-concert seminars, and puts on special fund raising events. Throughout the year, the Art Discovery Series presents plays, concerts, and musicals, and in the summer, there are regular band concerts at Veterans' Park, as well as many activities at the Sierra Vista Public Library such as a film series, lectures, readings, and other programs for children and adults. Pictographs created by Native Americans can be found in certain areas of the Huachuca Mountains.

The Gray Hawk Nature Center [1] offering nature education programs and housing live reptile and invertebrate exhibits is located nearby on the San Pedro River.


Vista Transit Center
Vista Transit Building

Sierra Vista is supported by a public mass transit system called Vista Transit, operated by the city. Huachuca City Transit operates between Huachuca City and Sierra Vista. Cochise Connection runs between Douglas, Bisbee, and Sierra Vista. Greyhound Lines offers service from Sierra Vista to Tucson and Phoenix.

There are two highways (SR 90 and SR 92) connecting Sierra Vista with neighboring communities. The city is also served by the Sierra Vista Municipal Airport (FHU) which is jointly operated by the U.S. Army as Libby Army Airfield. Currently there are no commercial flights arriving to or departing from FHU.

Major highways

  • Arizona 90.svg State Route 90
  • Arizona 92.svg State Route 92

Sister cities

Sierra Vista established its Sister Cities program in 1989 with Resolution 2282 in order to promote a relationship with MexicoCananea, Sonora, Mexico. Sierra Vista was later twinned with Germany Radebeul, Germany on May 22, 1998 by Resolution 3956. Sierra Vista and Radebeul currently have a foreign exchange program with each other.

Picture gallery


Sierra Vista is the commercial center for Cochise County and parts of northern Mexico. Retailers such as Lowe's, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, Dillard's, and Marshalls are located in the community, along with three major supermarkets and dozens of smaller specialty shops. The Mall at Sierra Vista is a 400,000-square-foot (37,000 m2) mall in Sierra Vista.

Sierra Vista has a substantial employment base due to Fort Huachuca—the community's major employer and primary driving economic force. Because of contracts with the army, the professional, scientific, and technical services sector is unusually large. Nearly half of all jobs in Sierra Vista are government jobs.

Wick Communications, which publishes several dozen newspapers in some twelve states, is headquartered in Sierra Vista.

Labor Market

As of July 2021, Sierra Vista has a civilian labor force of approximately 19,019 people with 18,097 employed. This would make the unemployment rate of Sierra Vista to be 4.8%.

According to the City of Sierra Vista Opportunity Statistics, the largest occupations are:

# Occupations Percentage
1 Management, Business, Science, and Arts 39.6%
2 Service 24.7%
3 Sales and Office 23%
4 Production, Transportation, and Material Moving 6.9%
4 Natural Resources, Construction, and Maintenance 5.9%

Major Industries

Sierra Vista's largest workforce belongs to public administration with Fort Huachuca as the main economic driver. The industries by share of workforce are:

# Industry Percentage of Workforce
1 Public administration 20.6%
2 Educational services, and health care and social assistance 21.1%
3 Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services 16%
4 Retail trade 10.5%
5 Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services 10.1%
6 Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing 4.7%
7 Manufacturing 3.8%
8 Other services, except public administration 3.5%
9 Construction 3.2%
10 Transportation and warehousing, and utilities 2.8%
11 Wholesale trade 1.6%
12 Information 1.6%
13 Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining 0.2%
# Industry Sales (2020)
1 Retail $568,506,425
2 Restaurant & Bar $90,232,282
3 Lodging $13,808,575

Sports teams and events

The Cochise County Cavaliers have combined with the Bisbee Ironmen, both former members of the Arizona Football League (AzFL), to form the Cochise County Ironmen. The Ironmen began their first season of play in 2011.


Sierra Vista Public Library
Sierra Vista Public Library

The Sierra Vista Unified School District includes one high school, Buena High School, one middle school, and six elementary schools. There are also several charter and private education opportunities. Higher education is available through the University of Arizona, College of Applied Science & Technology and Cochise Community College.

There is a 31,000-square-foot (2,900 m2) public library in the city across from city hall.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Sierra Vista para niños

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