Protected Land

Granite Dells – Payne

From Private Resort to Public Open Space

The evolution of a once-popular private resort to public open space illustrates how the land trust works with landowners to preserve natural landscapes, history, and recreational opportunities.

Sherman Payne’s great-grandfather settled in the Granite Dells north of Prescott in 1880. The homestead was named after the surrounding geology consisting of exposed bedrock and large granite boulders that, along with centuries of erosion, lend a rippled effect to the landscape. The 32-acre property was eventually developed by the Payne family, along with partners, the Wings, into the popular Granite Dells Resort, which operated from 1922 to 1971, attracting locals and tourists with a swimming lake, dance and pool hall, fishing lake, cabins, and other amenities.

It is believed the original pond was established by Native Americans who may have dug out a natural spring to water agricultural crops. The original spring-fed catchment was enlarged into an A-shaped concrete swimming lake. At some point a well was added to augment the pool, which held 3 million gallons of water.

The resort closed in 1971 when Sherman was no longer able to operate it, and increasing insurance costs made it financially difficult to continue the business. Although the swimming lake is now empty, history still flows from the property.

Following the establishment of the easement, the City of Prescott purchased the property and added it to its open space holdings and public recreational trails network.

Protected Lands in the area

CALT works with private landowners to develop conservation easements that protect open space, wildlife habitat, scenic views, and working farms and ranches in perpetuity.

Thumb Butte

Boyle DeBusk

Seven Spears Ranch


Coldwater Farm

Maya's Farm

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