Heber Overgaard Arizona

Nestled atop the breathtaking Mogollon Rim, Heber-Overgaard graces Navajo County, Arizona. Boasting an impressive elevation of 6,627 feet, this community had a populace of 2,800+ per the 2020 census data. Though Heber and Overgaard began as two separate unincorporated entities, their closeness led to a unified identity since the 1990 census, hence the conjoined name, “Heber-Overgaard”.

Back in 1883, Heber found its roots through settlers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The town may owe its name to either Heber J. Grant or Heber C. Kimball, both luminaries within the LDS church’s ranks. As for Overgaard, it sprang up around 1936, right next to Heber. Its namesake? Kristen Kristensen (often called Chris) Overgaard, the man who pioneered the area’s first sawmill.

The early days of Heber-Overgaard thrived on the backbones of dry farming and ranching. Today, however, the community’s economic pulse beats strongly with tourism, retirement ventures, real estate, and timbering industries.

image heber overgaard az

History Of Heber-Overgaard, Arizona

In the spring of 1873, pioneers from the Mormon community in Utah journeyed to the Little Colorado River territory, under the guidance of Horton D. Height. By 1876, this dedicated group had founded four distinct settlements along the riverbanks: Brigham City, Sunset, Obed, and the one known as Allen’s Camp, which would later be called Joseph City. Allen’s Camp saw the construction of a dam on the Little Colorado River in April, but nature had other plans. By July, rising waters had swept it away.

Disheartened by the dam’s destruction and other challenges, many settlers chose to return to Utah by August, leaving behind only eight couples and a handful of single men in Allen’s Camp. The subsequent years were harsh. By 1882, drought had taken its toll, leading to the decline of Obed, while both Brigham City and Sunset teetered on the edge of abandonment. It was during these testing times that John Bushman from Allen’s Camp was dispatched by Lot Smith, the presiding leader of the Little Colorado Stake.

On a chilly December 6th in 1882, John Bushman, along with a team of five comrades – W.C. Allen, J.H. Richards, J.C. Hansen, H. Tanner, and J.E. Shelley – embarked on a journey to the forest. Their mission? To dig wells in pursuit of fresh water sources. Their group soon expanded with the arrival of Hans Nielson, Lehi Heward, and John Scarlet.

Fast forward to April 13, 1883, and the landscape had changed. Two cabins stood tall, and fields were sown with grain. Yet, of the original group, only four families decided to call this place home: those of Lehi Heward, John Scarlet, Hans Nielson, and James Shelley. Interestingly, John Bushman, the initiator of this expedition, chose not to settle there. Still, he and his kin played pivotal roles, offering invaluable support and encouragement to those who stayed.

In the year 1887, a significant change swept through the settlement as Lehi Heward decided to leave, setting his sights on Pine, Arizona. His move was prompted by the escalating tensions of the Pleasant Valley War. The very canyon he had chosen as his abode, Buckskin Canyon, drew its name from the distinct buckskin chaps his wife Elisabeth crafted for him. A year later, in 1888, John Scarlet made his exit. Perhaps the seeds of this decision were sown in June 1885 when his beloved wife, Lulu, fell ill. Adding to the intrigue, by 1887, whispers spoke of him aligning with the posses led by Joe McKiney, the deputy serving under Sheriff C.P. Owens.

As 1889 dawned, the Porter brothers – Nathan, Alva, and Samuel Uriah – journeyed from St. Joseph (known today as Joseph City) to Heber. The fertile land between Heber and St. Joseph bore witness to their agricultural prowess as corn and potatoes flourished. The next wave of settlers, the Penrod and Sharp families, arrived from the neighboring Wilford in 1890. Samuel Porter’s recollections painted the Penrods in hues of skepticism, branding them anti-Mormon, while the Sharps were tagged as less than trustworthy.

Today, Heber-Overgaard stands proudly as a sought-after destination for retirees and tourists alike. The warmer months beckon outdoor enthusiasts with activities like hiking and fishing, while winter ushers in the delights of cross-country skiing. Blessed with a year-round temperate climate, the town is a sanctuary for those looking to flee Phoenix’s scorching temperatures. Although properties within Heber-Overgaard are privately owned, they’re cocooned by expanses of federal land. By 2010, a notable 66% of the homes functioned as secondary residences. And while the town’s permanent populace hovers around 2,822, the summer months see this number swell to an impressive 12,000.

Geographical Overview of Heber Overgaard AZ

Situated in the southwestern expanse of the United States, Heber-Overgaard finds itself nestled in Arizona’s central-eastern zone, comfortably positioned between Payson to its southwest and Show Low to the southeast. A journey by car places it roughly 144 miles northward from Phoenix, right where SR 260 meets SR 277.

The town sits at a substantial elevation of 6,627 feet, within the embrace of the Apache–Sitgreaves National Forest. Marked by its position in the White Mountains and skirting the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, Heber-Overgaard is encapsulated by an expanse of forest service terrain.

Distinctive landmarks like Black Canyon and Buckskin Canyon punctuate Heber’s landscape, while the general topography of Heber-Overgaard oscillates between undulating hills and expansive meadows. The responsibility of maintaining public roads falls on the “Navajo County Public Works”, with the majority of peripheral roads characterized by graded dirt. The upkeep of SR 260 and SR 277, however, is shouldered by ADOT.

In terms of geographical statistics, the United States Census Bureau records the CDP’s total span to be 6.9 square miles, composed entirely of land. With its resident count at 2,800+, the area boasts a population density of roughly 411 individuals per square mile.

Climate In Heber Overgaard AZ

Record high °F (°C)72(22)78(26)78(26)85(29)91(33)100(38)100(38)98(37)94(34)87(31)78(26)70(21)
Mean maximum °F (°C)58.7(14.8)62.9(17.2)69.5(20.8)75.6(24.2)82.7(28.2)90.5(32.5)91.2(32.9)88.1(31.2)84.7(29.3)78.8(26.0)69.4(20.8)61.9(16.6)
Average high °F (°C)45.6(7.6)49.6(9.8)56.5(13.6)63.6(17.6)71.0(21.7)81.7(27.6)83.0(28.3)80.5(26.9)

Parks and Outdoor Recreation In Heber AZ

In the heart of Heber-Overgaard, one finds a plethora of communal amenities. These range from a well-stocked public library and a sprawling 40-acre park to an astronomical observatory and a bustling aviation airpark. Sports enthusiasts aren’t left behind either, with an array of athletic facilities on offer: fields dedicated to baseball, football, and Little League, as well as courts primed for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and racquetball.

Just a stone’s throw to the south of Heber-Overgaard lies the majestic Mogollon Rim. This impressive landform, characterized by its sharp incline, rises anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 feet, forming a natural barrier that separates the elevated northern plateau from the more subdued central and southern terrains. The Rim isn’t just a geographical marvel; it also offers breathtaking vistas and is dotted with man-made lakes, making it a haven for fishing aficionados.

For those with a penchant for the outdoors, the region is ripe with opportunities. Hunters can pursue elk, deer, turkey, antelope, and even bear. Anglers can cast their lines in the neighboring trout-rich streams. And for those looking to soak in nature, picnic spots and camping areas are aplenty. Beyond these, the locale is punctuated with attractions like the Black Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Chevelon Canyon Lake, the Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery, Chevelon Butte, and the culturally rich Fort Apache Indian Reservation.

Popular Culture

On November 5, 1975, a striking incident occurred involving logger Travis Walton. While working with his team in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Walton claimed to have been taken by a UFO. Miraculously, five days later, he was discovered at a gas station in Heber. Contrary to popular myths, he was fully clothed. The Walton incident garnered significant media attention and has since been heralded as one of the most prominent “alleged alien abduction” cases. Travis Walton later penned a book recounting his extraordinary experience, titled “The Walton Experience” (1978). This account served as the inspiration for Paramount Pictures’ film, “Fire in the Sky” (1993), although the movie took creative liberties with the events.

Final Thoughts

Heber-Overgaard, Arizona is a great place to live and visit for many reasons. Whether you’re looking for an affordable cost of living or are seeking out nearby events and festivals, Heber-Overgaard has something for everyone. Plus with accessible airports and public transportation options, it’s easy to get around.

All in all, I’d say Heber-Overgaard is definitely worth checking out – its friendly atmosphere, affordability and proximity to large cities make it an ideal spot whether you’re relocating or just visiting! With so much to offer, why not give this quaint Arizona town a try? After all – ‘Tis better to have explored Heber-Overgaard than never having been at all!

Don’t miss these additional towns in the White Mountains of AZ:

You May Also Like


Holbrook Arizona

14 min read

Alpine Arizona

15 min read