Montezuma Castle National Monument
Afraid of heights? You may not have been a great asset to the Sinagua people living in the Verde Valley around 1050 AD. As perhaps one of the most well preserved cliff dwellings in all of North America, Montezuma Castle is truly remarkable. The Sinagua were clearly ahead of their time in terms of engineering, as well as understanding the seasonal flooding in the area. Using this to their advantage, they built their house above the flood plain and nestled into the side of a sheer limestone cliff. In fact, the main structure within Montezuma Castle National Monument is 90 feet off the valley floor and consists of a 5-story, 20 room structure which archaeologists believe to have been built in a day! Okay, much like Rome, it took substantially longer. Like 300 years in the case of this ‘castle’ in the desert. Take a peek in the Visitor Center. Enjoy the short walk down the paved trail to see the ruins. Also, enjoy the lush valley, Beaver Creek, and the displays along the short loop.
While you are in the area, don’t miss Montezuma Well. A mere 15 minutes to the North of Montezuma Castle, this literal oasis in the desert has played a major in the history of the area. First, learn about the high levels of CO2, arsenic, and calcium in the water. Then, learn why that is important the native plants and animals in the surrounding area. Lastly, keep an eye out Sonoran Mud Turtle which may also be endemic to this area.
Visitor Center: open daily 8am – 5pm (except Dec 25th and Jan 1st)
Pets: Dogs are allowed on the park trails, but must be on a leash. And, as always, pick up after your pet.
Fees: $10/adult; Age 15 and younger are free