Yuma History and Fact Page
The first Europeans arrived in the Yuma area in 1540 – some 80 years before the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock –when Spanish expeditions led by the Hernando de Alarcon and Melchior Diaz sailed up the Colorado from the Sea of Cortez. The town didn’t attract the attention of Americans until the gold rush of 1849, when thousands of prospectors passed through on their way to California. In just one year, more than 60,000 travelers passed through present-day Main Street to use the rope ferry system across the Colorado River.
Reflecting the town's growing standing in 1852, the U.S. Army established Fort Yuma on Indian Hill, overlooking the strategic crossing from across the river. And in 1854, the Gadsden Purchase was ratified, finally making the portion of Arizona south of the Gila River –and the Colorado City town site –part of the United States.
Today, Yuma is recognized by Guinness World Records as the sunniest place on earth with a mean of 4,055 hours of sunshine of a possible 4,456 hours a year – meaning it’s sunny 91 percent of all daylight hours. Yuma also is the driest and least humid spot in the nation, with an average of just 3.1 inches of rain a year. “Normal” highs range from 68 degrees in December and January to 106 in July.
Notable historic attractions in Yuma
- Casa de Coronado Museum
- Castle Dome Mines Museum
- Cloud Museum
- First Flight / Yuma Landing
- Gadsden Museum
- Gold Rock Ranch Museum
- Museum of History in Granite And Center of the World Pyramid
- Mormon Battalion statue
- Pivot Point Interpretative Plaza
- Sanguinetti House Museum
- Quechan Tribal Museum Gift Shop
- St. Thomas Indian Mission
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park
- Yuma Proving Ground Heritage Center
- Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park