Maricopa County is located in central Arizona and is one of 15 counties in Arizona. Maricopa County has more people than any other Arizona county. Of the ten largest cities in Arizona, nine of them are in Maricopa County. The only city in the top 10 that isn't is Tucson, which is located in Pima County.
Generally, when referring to "Greater Phoenix" or "Metro Phoenix," it means the metro area ("MSA") as defined by the U.S. Census. That's not the same as Maricopa County.
25 Cities and Towns of Maricopa County
There isn't too much of a distinction between cities and towns here. Suffice it to say all incorporated areas have some locally elected council and have either a Mayor or a manager. The places with a ("T") after the name are incorporated as towns.
- Apache Junction*
- Carefree (T)
- Cave Creek (T)
- El Mirage
- Fountain Hills (T)
- Gila Bend (T)
- Gilbert (T)
- Guadalupe (T)
- Litchfield Park
- Paradise Valley (T)
- Queen Creek (T)**
- Wickenburg (T)
- Youngtown (T)
*Apache Junction is partly in Maricopa County, but most of the population lives on the Pinal County side.
**Queen Creek is located in Maricopa County; part of it is located in Pinal County, but most of the population is in Maricopa County.
Other Large Communities in Maricopa County
Some communities that you might have heard about aren't actually cities or towns. They are merely large unincorporated areas located within Maricopa County. Because they have more than just a few people living there, they are considered significant enough to be designated as a CDP (Census Designated Place) by the U.S. Census.
These may be considered county islands, but many county islands are just small tracts of land. You might be familiar with these CDPs within Maricopa County that are technically neither a city or a town:
- Aguila (west of Phoenix)
- Anthem (north of Phoenix)
- Morristown (northwest, near Peoria)
- New River (north of Phoenix)
- Rio Verde (northeast of Scottsdale)
- Sun City (northwest of Phoenix)
- Sun City West (northwest of Phoenix)
- Sun Lakes (southeast of Phoenix)
- Tonopah (west of Phoenix)
- Wittman (northwest, near Wickenburg)
Some community names aren't on these lists that are in Maricopa County, but they are not cities, towns, or even CDPs. They are actually just neighborhoods within the City of Phoenix.
If you were looking for areas like Ahwatukee, Sunnyslope, or Laveen, check the urban villages of Phoenix.
Do you still think something was missed? What about Arrowhead, Vistancia, DC Ranch, Grayhawk, and Ocotillo? What about Desert Mountain, Trilogy, and Marley Park? Those aren't cities, and they aren't towns, although several of them are large enough to be cities. Those are master-planned communities. They are all located in one of the cities or towns listed above.