The Sierra Estrella Mountains of Arizona
Exploring and understanding the area’s rich past only enhances how the Estrella community connects to its active outdoor lifestyle. The history of the High Sonoran desert of the Sierra Estrella Mountains in Arizona dates back centuries to the Native American tribes whose presence and legacy are felt today.
500-1450: The Hohokam were responsible for building a series of irrigation canals in the shadow of the Sierra Estrella Mountains. They abandoned the area sometime between 1350-1450, most likely due to the effects of the Great Drought (1276-1299). They were followed by the Maricopa tribes: the Pima and Tohono O’odham who were thought to be descendants of the Hohokam.
1691-1704: Padre Eusebio Kino was the first known European to see the natural splendor of the Sierra Estrella Mountain Range. The Jesuit missionary was not just a man of God, but also a man of learning. As a geographer, explorer, cartographer, and astronomer, Padre Kino explored and mapped the future Phoenix area and Southern Arizona all the way down to the Mexican border.
The adventurous and empathetic priest also built bridges between different cultures, tribes, and the Catholic Church, establishing 21 missions during his years in the Desert Southwest and Northern Mexico. In the shadows of the Sierra Estrella Mountains, Padre Kino helped the Pima diversify their agriculture. He is revered by Native Americans and their culture for viewing the tribes as the people of the creator rather than savages to be conquered and driven from the land.
As an ally to the O’odham, Padre Kino wasn’t afraid of a fight, especially those involving social justice and the poor. He opposed Native American enslavement in Northern Mexico’s silver mines and fought for social justice against the European settlers and others who wanted to steal their lands. In July of 2020, Pope Francis approved Father Kino to be declared a “venerable” person, which is just two steps away from sainthood. You can learn more about the remarkable man who is revered by Native Americans from the Kino Historical Society.
Key Moments in the Modern Age
Arizona was originally part of Spanish and Mexican territories. The land was ceded to the United States in 1848, and Arizona became a separate territory in 1863. The first commercial stagecoaches rolled into Arizona in 1858 and began passing right through the Estrella area. The Butterfield Stagecoach Line opened travel routes between Missouri and Southern California, providing regular mail and passenger service to towns along the way. The speedy Butterfield Line was the predecessor to American Express and Wells Fargo.
1910: Steam-powered ‘iron horses’ finally arrived in the west, speeding the transit of people and commercial cargo across the land. The Southern Pacific Railroad steamed through Arizona, directly passing through the towns of Liberty and Buckeye in the Sierra Estrellas. Suddenly, the west coast was only a day’s journey away from the Wild West territory of Arizona.
1912: Arizona Territory was admitted to the Union and granted statehood in 1912, becoming the last of the ‘lower 48’ to join the United States of America.
1917-1930: Cotton became the king of the Southwestern desert. In response to the high demand for cotton, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Factory executive Paul Litchfield established Goodyear Farms on 16,000 acres.
1942: Goodyear began building blimps, bringing 7,500 jobs and new settlers to live in the area’s Sierra Estrella Mountains of the Arizona desert Southwest. By 1946, the town of Goodyear was incorporated. The town had 220 houses, a grocery store, a drugstore, a barber, and a service station.
1984: The property that would become Estrella™ was added as a Federal land preserve, which was later purchased by American Continental.
1985: The twin North and South Lakes were created, adding 72 acres of aquatic fun with kayaking, canoeing, and sailing to the High Sonoran Desert landscape in the Sierra Estrella Mountains. Families flocked to the sandy beaches to play in the water, hold barbecues, and enjoy sunsets.
1988: The Estrella™ community Grand Opening was a three-day extravaganza with lakeside activities and a concert featuring the Phoenix Symphony.
1999: The Golf Club in Estrella opened, showcasing a Nicklaus-designed 18-hole championship golf course that attracted visitors and golf enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and the world.
2001: President Clinton declared 496,000 pristine acres of Sonoran wilderness a National Monument, 19,000 of them belong to the Sierra Estrella Park. The area is home to diverse and endangered species, forests of cactus, and numerous historical and archaeological sites.
2019: Goodyear was named 22nd on the country’s best places to live by Money magazine
2020: Voted #4 on AZBigMedia’s Top Ten Places to Live in Arizona.
Today, Goodyear is the setting for vibrant new industries, and our beautiful Estrella master-planned community is still surrounded by the Sierra Estrella Mountains. Life in Estrella is enhanced by more than 50 miles of hiking trails, 72 acres of lakes, and the incredible beauty of the Sonoran desert.
While it may be decades until Estrella achieves full buildout, our community maintains its hometown feel and is also just a quick drive from downtown Phoenix. With plenty of room to move, the Sierra Estrella Mountains and Estrella Mountain Preserve remain federally protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy!
See the homes available in Estrella by visiting our Homefinder page.