Thumb Butte-local support permanently helps to protect Prescott's iconic landmark.

At 6,514 feet, Thumb Butte, a prominent summit of volcanic origin, dominates the western skyline of Prescott, AZ and serves as an iconic landmark for residents and visitors alike. In the early 1990s, the Central Arizona Land Trust (CALT) formed, in part, because of development threats at its base. CALT working with the City of Prescott (COP) bolstered by overwhelming public support, protected the eastern flank or face of Thumb Butte permanently from development.

The story begins in the early 1980s with the construction of what was known as the 'Scar' – a building platform excavated  for  a  future  home  site  by  the  landowners  at  the time.  The  unsightly  earthworks  generated  negative  public reaction,   which   ultimately   convinced   the   landowner   to abandon  building on the site. The parcel was eventually put up  for  sale  in  the  early  1990s.  CALT  and  the  COP  jointly acquired it on January 5, 1993 and the adjacent parcel to the east on September 15, 2005 after an extensive public fundraising campaign to purchase both. The 'Scar' acquisition was also the beginning of a concerted effort by CALT and the COP to raise   additional   funds   to   acquire   other   adjacent   parcels. Ultimately,  CALT  and  the  COP  raised  funds  to  acquire  six additional parcels for a total of seven acres. Once purchased, conservation easements were established to ensure permanent protection from development and then conveyed to the City of Prescott as public open space. CALT refers to the contiguous parcels as the “Thumb Butte Conservation Easement”.

Along  with  protection  of  the  Thumb  Butte  Conservation Easement  (CE),  there  was  a  concerted  effort  by  various stakeholders  to  restore  native  vegetation  at  the  site  of  the “Scar” in the mid 1990s. Although barely noticeable today, the “Scar” was an obvious blemish for anyone looking at Thumb Butte from the east. Stakeholders initiated plans to restore the site,  and  ultimately  enough  money  was  raised  to  contract private  consultants  to  plant  native  trees  and  shrubs.  Without this determined effort to revegetate the site, it would have been difficult to establish slow growing, native shrubs and trees.

The  CE  is  bounded  by  the  Prescott  National  Forest  to  the west, which greatly contributes to the open space values. The CE in turn also provides an additional open space buffer and connectivity for species who use the promontory on Thumb Butte  and  the  surrounding  undeveloped  lands  as  a  place  of refuge  on  a  permanent  or  seasonal  basis.  One  spectacular seasonal  visitor  is  the  Peregrine  falcon  (Falco  peregrinus), which  nests  on  the  cliffs  of  Thumb  Butte  from  February  to July. To protect the breeding pair during this important time period,  the  Prescott  National  Forest  strongly  enforces  a closure, which restricts access near the nest site. The east side of  this  closure  is  along  the  entire  Prescott  National  Forest boundary of the CE.

Views  from  the  CE  are  outstanding.  There  is  a  180-degree panorama including the Sierra Prieta Range and the Bradshaw Mountains,    the    grasslands    of    Chino    Valley,    Mingus Mountain,  and  the  Mogollon  Rim,  along  with  the  higher summits of the San Francisco Volcanic Field.

Public access to the Thumb Butte Conservation Easement is off Thumb  Butte  Rd.  Turn  left  onto  Circle  P  and  follow  it  to Parker Road. A limited parking area is located at the bottom of  Parker  Road  just  before  the  dirt  roadway  becomes  too steep to access. Follow the road until you reach a small sign highlighting the CE and trail access. We ask that if you decide to  visit  the  site,  that  you  please  respect  the  privacy  of  local landowners by not driving up Parker Rd. and remaining quiet traveling through the area.

The Thumb Butte Conservation Easement is a testament of how  CALT  works  to  find  solutions  for  land  protection  that conserves both natural resources and our Western Heritage. Enjoy your visit and contact CALT with any questions about conservation easements or open space.

An image from the late 1980's showing Thumb Butte

and the 'scar' in the lower left.

The Central Arizona Land Trust is an Arizona nonprofit corporation and is tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) and a qualifying organization under Section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue Code for the acceptance of conservation easements.


Central Arizona Land Trust

PO Box 1050

Prescott, AZ, 86302


Office Location: 1577 Plaza W. Dr., Prescott, AZ 86303