Introduction to Yuma, Arizona
The Arizona city of Yuma, county seat of Yuma County, lies in the extreme southwest corner of the state just a few miles from the borders of California and Mexico. Framed by rugged mountains, the city is situated just below the meeting point of the Colorado and Gila rivers. There are no big cities close to Yuma, the nearest being over three hours away. Phoenix is about 175 miles to the east and San Diego California about the same distance away in the opposite direction. Yuma is connected to both by Interstate I-8 which is one of two main arteries running through the city, the other being U.S. Route 95.
Having gone under the names of both Colorado City and Arizona City, Yuma was named for the Yuma Indians. The Yumas are actually a composite of three local tribes (the Quechans, Cocopahs, and Mohaves), who according to legend built fires in the belief that rain would come to the area (the native word "uma" translates to "fire"). Yuma today is a large agricultural community and has grown to be one of the state's most important cities. The military is also a prominent factor in the city owing to the dual presence of the Marine Corps Air Station and the Yuma Proving Grounds, an Army test site.
Yuma Points of Interest
A wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities awaits visitors to Yuma, which is also rich in historic and cultural sites. The historical Yuma Territorial Prison, which accepted its first inmate back in 1876, is now operated as a historical museum. The Yuma Crossing State Historic Park houses 6 restored and 6 replicated buildings commemorating the cultural and educational development of western history along its 9 acres of winding pathways. The Historic Yuma Theatre features original film screenings, community theater productions, and Saturday children's matinees, as well as jazz festivals, art symposiums, educational workshops, and many special events. The Yuma Ballet Theatre & Performing Arts Company stages a wide assortment of artistic presentations and fully staged dance concerts annually. The Fort Yuma-Quechan Museum, formerly part of one of the oldest military posts associated with the Arizona Territory, houses tribal relics of the Quechan Tribe. The Century House Museum, one of Yuma's oldest and most historic buildings, exhibits artifacts, photographs and furnishings of Arizona's territorial period. Fans of the visual arts will appreciate the Yuma Fine Arts Museum, recognized as one of the Southwest's major art museums. Yuma is also home to the Marine Corps Air Station, which stages an annual air show along with many large-scale military exercises. Gaming fans and occasional gamblers don't have to go far to visit a casino. There are two in the area: The Cocopah Casino and the Paradise Casino.
Yuma also celebrates a number of annual events and festivals. Some of these are:
- Yuma Lettuce Days (January): a downtown event held in the midst of the growing season, celebrating the fact that over 90 percent of the country's winter vegetable crops are grown in the Yuma area.
- Bluegrass in the Park (January): an outdoor event featuring bluegrass music held at the Yuma Crossing State Historic Park.
- Yuma Square Dance Festival (February)
- Midnight at the Oasis (March): a classic car and nostalgia festival.
- Yuma County Science Festival (March): includes participation of students in grades 4 through 12.
- Yuma Birding and Nature Festival (April): includes seminars, hikes, and natural history tours of Yuma and northern Mexico.
- Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival (November): one of the premier hot-air balloon events in the country.
- Children's Festival of the Arts (November)
Yuma sports fans were recently pleased to learn that a new professional baseball team will be in town as of early 2007. The Yuma Scorpions will be playing in a newly-formed instructional league administered by the independent Golden Baseball League (GBL). The league will play its games prior to the GBL summer season and will be staffed with the summer season's instructors and managers.