The Town of Fountain Hills is a master-planned community established in 1970 by McCulloch Properties (now MCO Properties, Inc.) It is nestled between the eastern slopes of the McDowell Mountains and the Verde River Valley and Fort McDowell. The iconic Four Peaks and Red Rock soar to the east.
The natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert terrain provides numerous opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, water recreation, and golf.
The Lower Verde River Valley was home to the ancient Hohokam from about 300 to 1500 CE. However, cultural precursors may have been here since 300 BCE. In the late 1880s, the area was used for cattle ranching. The Box Bar Ranch was formed just eight miles north of Fountain Hills in 1915 along the Verde River. In the early 1950s, the P-Bar Ranch was operating in present-day Fountain Hills. The ranch headquarters were still present when town development began in the 1970s. A plaque on a short brick wall can be seen in the Fountain Hills High School parking lot marks the location of these ranch headquarters.
Today, the Town of Fountain Hills is built around the centerpiece of the community, the iconic fountain, one of the world’s tallest manmade fountains. It attracts thousands of visitors each year. The fountain was built in 1970 by Robert McCulloch. The nozzle for the unique base was crafted in Switzerland. The plume of water is driven by three 600 horsepower turbine pumps, spraying water at a rate of 7,000 gallons per minute through the 18-inch nozzle. In ideal conditions, with all pumps in operation, the fountain can reach a height of 560 feet. In normal, daily operations, only two pumps are used for a height of around 300 feet. It held the record as the world’s tallest manmade fountain for over a decade.
In January 2018, Fountain Hill was designated an International Dark Sky Community by the International Dark Sky Association. This designation is a result of both geography and lighting ordinances. The community is shielded from the lights of the larger cities in the Phoenix metro area by the McDowell Mountains to the west. The presence of low-impact outdoor lighting creates an outstanding environment for stargazing.
- Incorporated in 1989
- Total area: 20.37 sq mi
- Elevation: 1,520-3,000 feet
- Estimated population (2019): 25,200
- Density: 1,242.42/sq mi
- Time zone: MST, no Daylight Savings Time
- Town website: fh.az.gov
24 HOURS IN FOUNTAIN HILLS
If you only have one day to get a well-rounded experience in Fountain Hills, this itinerary will give you a taste for the community.
Start with a pre-breakfast hike on the Lake Overlook Trail. This easy 1.17-mile trail rewards you immediately with beautiful views of Fountain Park and the iconic fountain, the McDowell Mountains, Four Peaks, Red Rock, Fort McDowell and the Verde River, and across the Town of Fountain Hills. If you’re not into hiking, enjoy a leisurely stroll on the paved pathway around the fountain.
After starting the morning with some gentle exercise, fuel up at Euro Pizza Café with eggs benedict, breakfast wraps, omelets, and other delicious breakfast offerings. If the weather is nice, get a table on the patio where you can watch the fountain.
Spend the rest of your morning learning about the ancient and more recent history of the Lower Verde River Valley and the Town of Fountain Hills at the River of Time Museum. Find out about the ancient Hohokam who lived throughout this river valley, the story of the Dixie Mine, the history of Fort McDowell and the Yavapai Nation, the cattle days of the P-Bar Ranch, and much more.
If you are ready for lunch, treat your taste buds to the flavors of Puerto Rico and Latin cuisine at Sofrita. This cozy restaurant has a rich cultural atmosphere that matches the delicious flavors of the food. Try the Mayan Red Quinoa Salad, indulge in the Cubano sandwich made with pork pernil and Black Forest ham, or savor the Firehouse Fish Tacos with mango salsa. And don’t miss the best chips and guacamole in town!
Walk off some of those calories after lunch with a self-guided tour of Fountain Hills’ Public Art collection. At a staggering 150 pieces, Fountain Hills is home of one of the largest public art in the state of Arizona. The pieces can be found in Centennial Circle near Town Hall, along Avenue of the Fountains, and throughout Fountain Park. You can schedule a free docent-led tour or take the self-guided tour at your own pace. Get more information and find maps here.
If you still have some time, stop in at the Fountain Hills Artist’s Gallery where you will find one-of-a-kind gifts and treasures from local artists. And make sure to stop by Chocofin Chocolatier to indulge in world-class fine chocolates. This shop offers Arizona’s first bean-to-bar craft chocolate.
Once you’ve worked up your appetite again, you can satisfy it at one of Fountain Hills fine dining establishments. Try Cielo at the internationally recognized ADERO Scottsdale resort where you can find the unique Dark Sky cocktail. Or enjoy a unique dining experience at Oka Sushi on the Avenue of the Fountains. If you are craving Sonoran Mexican food, try El Encanto. This Old-World mission-style restaurant offers authentic, handmade Mexican cuisine.
Finish your evening with great entertainment by catching a performance at the Fountain Hills Theater. For 30 years, this professionally-directed community theater has offered award-winning shows and experiences.
Before you call it a day, head to one of the parks to get a glimpse of the starry night sky. In 2018, Fountain Hills was certified as an International Dark Sky Community. Reach out to the Fountain Hills Dark Sky Association to see if there are any stargazing events on the night of your visit.