Meet the 5 Largest Landowners in Arizona

Written by Crystal
Updated: April 13, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Land ownership is an important aspect of Arizona’s economy, with many individuals and businesses owning large tracts of land for various purposes, including farming, ranching, and real estate development.
  • Arizona’s laws regarding land ownership are governed by both state and federal regulations, including the Bureau of Land Management and the Arizona State Land Department, which manages over 9 million acres of state-owned land.
  • Many landowners in Arizona face unique challenges related to water usage and conservation, as the state is located in a semi-arid region and relies heavily on water from the Colorado River for irrigation and other uses.

Arizona is one of the best states to own land in.

The United States is a vast country with various landscapes and terrains. From the Everglades in Florida to the tundra of Alaska, the United States has it all. But Arizona stands out among the 49 states as a great place to own land. That’s right, it’s a financially savvy decision to invest in Arizona land, and here’s why.

The most obvious reason to purchase land in Arizona is the warm weather. But that’s not all.
The cost of land in Arizona is also quite low. It costs far less to buy an acre of land in Arizona than in other parts of the country. That’s why so many smart landowners are purchasing land in this fantastic state.

Who are the top landowners in Arizona? Read on to find out.

1. Federal Government — 30,741,287 Acres

Fossil Springs
In addition to the infamous toilet bowl, there are cliff jumps, waterfalls, swimming holes, rock pools, and caverns at Fossil Springs.

©Jon Manjeot/

The federal government oversees 30,741,287 acres in Arizona. This accounts for 42.9% of the state’s land. The federal government’s ownership of Arizona land is a significant factor in the state. It has a direct impact on the environment, local economies, and other resources within Arizona.

Federal lands are managed by a variety of agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service. These lands provide many benefits to residents, including recreational opportunities, hunting access, timber harvest areas, and the protection of endangered species. 

National parks and historic sites are a few of the most important areas the federal government oversees. A few of the most popular national parks include the Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Zion, and the Petrified Forest. In addition to providing tangible benefits, federal land ownership also contributes to Arizona’s economy in other ways.

For example, wildlife refugees provide economic activities such as ecotourism and hunting licenses. The federal government also provides grants for projects that help with conservation, recreation, and the management of public lands. 

2. State Department — 9.2 Million Acres

Big Lake Arizona
Arizona’s State Department owns 9.2 million acres of land.

©Bruce Grubbs/

Arizona’s State Department owns 9.2 million acres of land. That means Arizona’s biggest landowner is the State Land Department. The department was created in 1912 by an act of Congress that set aside 10.9 million acres across Arizona to benefit public schools. The State Land Department still operates by the same laws and generates $318 million in revenue every year.

3. Babbit Ranches — 750,000 Acres

road on the Babbit Ranch
Babbit Ranches owns 750,000 acres in Arizona.

©Nate Loper/

Babbit Ranches owns 750,000 acres in Arizona. The family has owned and operated their ranching operations since 1884. They became a significant player in the state’s economic landscape. Babbitt Ranches is the largest landowner in Arizona. But many other large landowners, like Shannon Kizer, have played a role in Arizona’s development.

4. Shannon Kizer — 302,000 Acres

Women Riding Horses On A Desert Trail In Arizona
Shannon Kizer owns 302,000 acres of land in Arizona.

©Ray Redstone/

Shannon Kizer owns 302,000 acres of land in Arizona. This gives Shannon the third spot on Arizona’s list of largest landowners, with 302,000 acres across five states. The five states include Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Shannon’s farming and ranching produce peanuts, corn, wheat, dairy, and cattle. It’s roughly equal to the size of Phoenix, Arizona.

These are just a few of the top private landowners in Arizona. With so many acres dedicated to various businesses across the state, it’s clear why Arizona is an attractive place to purchase land. From large ranches to small farms and everything in between, there’s something for everyone in this great state!

5. Cienega Ranch — 27,100 Acres

Arizona, Blue, Cloud - Sky, Cloudscape, Desert Area
The Cienega Ranch owns 27,100 acres of land in Arizona.


The Cienega Ranch owns 27,100 acres of land in Arizona. It’s a fantastic place, with tons of wildlife viewing opportunities. The ranch helps researchers understand watershed activities to help promote conservation efforts.

The Cienega Ranch of Arizona is also one of the largest privately owned ranches in the United States. Located in Cochise County, Arizona, it covers over 27,100 acres. The ranch is home to many native species, including wild turkeys, cougars, deer, and other wildlife. Cienega Ranch is a working ranch that produces hay for livestock, alfalfa, and grass pellets for horses. The ranch is owned by the Heyl family, who have held ownership since 1929.

In 2019, the Trust for Public Land partnered with the Heyl family to protect Cienega Ranch through conservation easements. This initiative ensures that the land will never be developed or subdivided. It can remain intact forever, protecting its rich ecosystem. Thanks to this bold move by both parties, future generations of Arizonans will be able to enjoy this ranch and all it has to offer for years to come.

More About Landowners in Arizona

What other landowners should you know about in Arizona? The Navajo Nation owns tribal lands across northern Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. It is the largest Native American reservation in the United States and is home to more than 150,000 members of the Navajo Nation. It’s become an essential resource for sustainable economic growth.

State Land Department

Who else owns sizable amounts of land in Arizona? The State Land Department oversees millions of acres of land. They lease it for private, commercial, or agricultural purposes. These lands generate income for schools, hospitals, and other public institutions. The Arizona State University Foundation also owns more than 200,000 acres of land. Alumni and friends donated the land to the university over the years.

Private Corporations

Other landowners in Arizona include large landowners in the state include private corporations such as Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., mining interests including Peabody Western Coal Company, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

All of these organizations own thousands of acres throughout Arizona. These landowners have all played an essential role in shaping Arizona’s landscape over the years.

Summary of the 5 Largest Landowners in Arizona

Here is a list of the 5 largest landowners in the state of Arizona:

RankLandownerLand Size
1Federal Government30,741,287 acres
2State Department9,200,000 acres
3Babbit Ranches750,000 acres
4Shannon Kizer302,000 acres
5Cienega Ranch27,100 acres

Animals That Live in Arizona

The Gila Monster is a venomous lizard found only in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. I

©Laurens Hoddenbagh/

Arizona is a diverse state with a wide range of habitats, from deserts and grasslands to mountains and forests. As a result, it is home to a diverse array of animal species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.

Here are just a few examples of animals that live in Arizona:

  • Gila Monster – The Gila Monster is a venomous lizard found only in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is the largest lizard native to the United States and has distinctive bumpy skin and a bright, colorful pattern. Gila Monsters are primarily nocturnal and spend most of their time hiding in underground burrows.
  • Arizona Bark Scorpion – The Arizona Bark Scorpion is a small, highly venomous scorpion found throughout the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States. It is one of the most venomous scorpions in North America and can cause serious injury or even death in some cases. Despite their venomous reputation, Arizona Bark Scorpions are important predators in their ecosystem and play a crucial role in controlling insect populations.
  • Desert Bighorn Sheep – The Desert Bighorn Sheep is a large mammal found in the deserts and mountain ranges of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They are well adapted to life in the harsh desert environment, with their hooves and curved horns enabling them to navigate steep, rocky terrain. Desert Bighorn Sheep are an important part of the ecosystem and help to maintain healthy plant communities through their grazing habits.
  • Black-tailed Rattlesnake – The Black-tailed Rattlesnake is a venomous snake found throughout the deserts of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It is easily recognizable for its rattle, which it uses as a warning to potential predators. Black-tailed Rattlesnakes are primarily nocturnal and feed on small mammals such as rodents and lizards.

In conclusion, Arizona is home to a rich variety of animal species, many of which are well adapted to the unique and challenging desert environment. From venomous reptiles to large mammals, these animals are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of life in the American Southwest.

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The Featured Image

A woman riding on Horse from John Ford's Point overlook in Monument Valley Tribal Park in Arizona, USA
Arizona is best known for the Grand Canyon.

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About the Author

Crystal is always looking to learn more, and share her finds with you along the way. It's amazing how you can spend your entire life living with plants and animals, but still know so little about them! Let's explore our world together as Crystal covers topics about creatures, places, and experiences.

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