Maricopa County is located in central Arizona and is one of 15 counties in Arizona. Maricopa County has more people than any other AZ county. Of the 10 largest cities in Arizona, 9 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 I refer to "Greater Phoenix" or "Metro Phoenix," I am referring to the metro area ("MSA") as defined by the U.S. Census. That's not the same as Maricopa County.
Cities and Towns of Maricopa County, Arizona
There isn't too much of a distinction between cities and towns here; suffice it to say that these are all incorporated areas with some sort of locally elected council and either a Mayor or a manager. Those 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, Arizona
Some communities that you might have heard about aren't actually cities or towns. They are simply 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)
There are some community names that 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 listing.
You still think I missed some? 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 simply master-planned communities. They are all located in one of the cities or towns listed above.