Long before the European explorers Native Americans lived and prospered in the old southwest. The earliest were the Anasazi, Mogollon and Hohokam. Later the Apache and Navajo moved into eastern Arizona.
Spaniard Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca led three companions across Texas and into Arizona around 1535 becoming the first European to enter the area. Drawn by legends of the Seven Cities of Cibola more and more Spanish explorers entered the area. Marcos de Niza came around 1539 and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1540.They were the ones to find the Grand Canyon and numerous Indian villages but no cities of gold.
Father Kino founded more than 20 missions in the area including the beautiful San Xavier del Bac.
The first white settlement in Arizona was established in 1752 at Tubac. Very little settlement went on until the area became part of the Mexican territory in 1821. Mountain such as Pauline Weaver and Kit Carson were among many mountain men/explorers who entered the area. Following the Mexican War the northern part of Arizona became part of the territory of New Mexico. U.S. diplomat James Gadsden negotiated for the southern part of Arizona and the present border was established.
Exploration continued as John Wesley Powell travelled the Grand Canyon.