The East and West Valleys in the Phoenix Metro Area

ASU campus in Tempe
ASU campus in Tempe.

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If you live in the Phoenix metro area, you'll see these terms used regularly in the media, literally hundreds if not thousands of times a year. But the general public doesn't seem to have a clear idea of what constitutes the East Valley and the West Valley. Here's what we've found after taking a close look at a map of Metro Phoenix cities and towns and a list of cities and towns in Maricopa County.

Scenic View of Apache Junction
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Where Is the East Valley?

That definition varies, but we define the East Valley as those cities and towns in Maricopa County that are south and east of Phoenix and Scottsdale. These include:

  • Apache Junction
  • Chandler
  • Gilbert
  • Guadalupe
  • Mesa
  • Tempe
  • Queen Creek

Although not a city or town, we include Sun Lakes in East Valley.

Unlike some magazines and newspapers, we do not include Scottsdale in any definition of the East Valley. Yes, it is east of Phoenix. Still, like Phoenix, Scottsdale is an internationally known destination that's large and diverse enough to stand on its own.

Blue Vistancia in Peoria, Arizona
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Where Is the West Valley?

We include all the cities and towns that are west of Phoenix. Those include:

  • Buckeye
  • El Mirage
  • Glendale
  • Goodyear
  • Litchfield Park
  • Peoria
  • Surprise
  • Tolleson
  • Wickenburg
  • Youngtown

Although they are not cities or towns, we include Sun City, Sun City West, and Sun City Grand in West Valley.

The main pool at a resort in Paradise Valley, Arizona
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What About Phoenix?

The City of Phoenix is well-defined, but there are a few communities that are usually included in discussions of Phoenix. The original Anthem is not a city or a town. It is a large community north of Phoenix that started as a planned community. Cave Creek is also in the northern part of town, and it is often associated with Phoenix. The two even share some zip codes. Some people prefer to associate Paradise Valley with Scottsdale, probably because both are considered affluent areas. Geographically, Paradise Valley is probably more closely aligned with Phoenix. So, for example, Paradise Valley resorts should be included when discussing Phoenix summer resort packages.​

Small waterfall at Southfork of Cave Creek, Arizona
Morey Milbradt / Getty Images

What About Scottsdale?

Again, the city of Scottsdale is well-defined. Geographically, it runs all along the eastern border of Phoenix and is over 30 miles long. Most people include Carefree with Scottsdale, although Cave Creek and Carefree are sister communities that are both in the northeastern part of the metro area. They associate Fountain Hills with Scottsdale as well. 

How Do You Define Greater Phoenix?

There is no official designation known as Greater Phoenix. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area, commonly known as the Valley of the Sun, the Salt River Valley, or Metro Phoenix, is a metropolitan area anchored by the city of Phoenix and surrounded by most of the central portion of the state of Arizona. The United States Census Bureau designates the area as the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), which includes Maricopa and Pinal counties. 

The informal designations Greater Phoenix and Metro Phoenix refer to the places where most people around the Phoenix-centered region live, work, go to school, and play. This means that in everyday usage, these terms usually also comprise Native American lands, Gold Canyon, Superior, Florence, Maricopa, and Casa Grande since they are geographically very close to but not necessarily in Maricopa County.