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Central Highlands Planning Area Geography

The Central Highlands Planning Area encompasses about 13,900 square miles (sq. mi.) and includes the Agua Fria, Salt River, Tonto Creek, Upper Hassayampa and Verde River basins. Basin boundaries, counties and prominent cities, towns and places are shown in Figure 5.0-2. The planning area is bounded on the north by the Coconino Plateau Basin in the Western Plateau Planning Area, on the east by the Eastern Plateau Planning Area, on the south by the Southeastern Arizona Planning Area and the Phoenix Active Management Area (AMA), and on the west by the Prescott AMA and the Upper Colorado River Planning Area (See Arizona Planning Areas Map). The planning area includes all or part of three watersheds, which are discussed in section 5.0.2.  Within the planning area, the Fort Apache Indian Reservation encompasses about 2,500 sq. mi. and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, most of which is within the Southeastern Arizona Planning Area, encompasses about 500 sq. mi.  The two other reservations, Tonto-Apache and Yavapai-Apache, are relatively small, totaling only about 740 acres or 1.2 sq. mi.

Click to view Figure 5.0-2

Figure 5.0-2  Central Highlands Planning Area

Figure 5.0-3 Physiographic Provinces of Arizona

Physiographic Provinces of Arizona

Most of the planning area is within the Central Highlands transition zone, located between the Basin and Range Lowlands and Plateau Uplands Provinces (Figure 5.0-3). It is characterized by rugged mountains of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.  The extreme southwestern part of the planning area extends into the Basin and Range Lowlands physiographic province, which is characterized by northwest-southeast trending mountain ranges separated by broad alluvial valleys.  The southern portions of the Agua Fria and Upper Hassayampa basins are included in this province. The northwestern part of the planning area falls within the Plateau Uplands physiographic province, which is characterized by high desert plateaus and incised canyons.  Included in this province are the northern part of the Verde River Basin, and the northern edge of the Tonto Creek and Salt River basins.  Elevation ranges from 1,500 feet at Saguaro Lake in the Salt River Basin to 12,633 feet at Humphreys Peak in the San Francisco Mountains at the northeastern edge of the Verde River Basin.  High-elevation mountains are also found in the White Mountains in the eastern portion of the Salt River Basin where Mt. Baldy, at 11,403 feet, is the highest point.

Most of the planning area is within the Central Highlands transition zone, located between the Basin and Range Lowlands and Plateau Uplands Provinces (Figure 5.0-3). It is characterized by rugged mountains of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.  The extreme southwestern part of the planning area extends into the Basin and Range Lowlands physiographic province, which is characterized by northwest-southeast trending mountain ranges separated by broad alluvial valleys.  The southern portions of the Agua Fria and Upper Hassayampa basins are included in this province. The northwestern part of the planning area falls within the Plateau Uplands physiographic province, which is characterized by high desert plateaus and incised canyons.  Included in this province are the northern part of the Verde River Basin, and the northern edge of the Tonto Creek and Salt River basins.  Elevation ranges from 1,500 feet at Saguaro Lake in the Salt River Basin to 12,633 feet at Humphreys Peak in the San Francisco Mountains at the northeastern edge of the Verde River Basin.  High-elevation mountains are also found in the White Mountains in the eastern portion of the Salt River Basin where Mt. Baldy, at 11,403 feet, is the highest point.

A unique geographic feature of the planning area is the Mogollon Rim, an escarpment that defines the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau.  The rim is approximately 7,000 feet in elevation with sheer drops of 2,000 feet at some locations.  The rim stretches for over a hundred miles and forms much of the northeastern boundary of the planning area.  The planning area contains diverse topography and a large elevational range, resulting in a wide diversity of vegetation types and ecosystems, the greatest of any planning area.  Topography varies from desert basins in the Hassayampa Basin to deeply incised canyons along the Mogollon Rim and high mountain peaks. Because of the high elevations and associated higher rainfall and snowfall, this planning area contains the state’s most important water producing watersheds, the Salt and Verde rivers.  These watersheds contain the greatest concentration of perennial streams found in the state, which in turn support extensive riparian habitat.

 

For more information on Geography see individual basins in the directory to the right.

water drop Click here to continue to Section 5.0.2 Hydrology

 

 

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Download pdf of entire Central Highlands Planning Area Download pdf of the Central Highlands Planning Area Overview

References and Supplemental Reading for the Central Highlands Planning Area Overview

Colorado River Central Highlands Planning Area Download entire Central Highlands Planning Area Atlas in pdf Verde River Lake Pleasant