Payson is a small, historic community located eight miles southwest of Spanish Fork in southern Utah County. Due to its beautiful setting near the Mt. Nebo wilderness area at the mouth of Payson Canyon, residents and visitors are always close to hunting, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities. The community was originally named Fort Peteetneet for Chief Peteetneet and his people who lived there. James Pace, John Courland, A.J. Stewart and other Mormon pioneers settled the area in 1850. The settlers changed the name to Pacen shortly after their arrival. Pacen was changed to Payson when the town was incorporated on January 21, 1853, under Utah Territorial law. Payson-Then and Now video on Youtube.
Erected in 1901, the Peteetneet Academy was one of the first totally free schools in Utah. This beautiful building was abandoned in 1988 by the school district, but was restored in 1989. The Academy's museum includes a unique 1901 classroom, a Victorian inner home, a historical exhibit, and two art galleries.
The Mt. Nebo Scenic Byway, one of America's National Byways, crosses the Uinta National Forest between the cities of Nephi, Santaquin and Payson. It climbs to over 9,000 feet in elevation and provides breathtaking views of Utah Valley. Mt. Nebo is the tallest mountain in the Wasatch Range at 11,877 feet. The drive is a photographer's dream with outstanding overlooks and views of wildlife. The brilliant fall foliage there is another major attraction of the area. Numerous campgrounds, trail systems and popular horseback riding areas are located along the byway. The Mount Nebo wilderness area can be accessed from the Nebo Loop.
Each summer, Payson hosts three well-known festivals: The Scottish Festival, The Salmon Supper, and Golden Onion Days. The Scottish Festival celebrates Payson's Scottish heritage with bagpipes, highland dance, highland games, a parade, and traditional food. (Information courtesy Payson City, UVEDA)