This isn’t a castle and it has nothing to do with Montezuma, but at this point no one even talks about renaming it. This Sinagua ruin is, however, one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in Arizona. The site in fact has two impressive stone pueblos that were, for unknown reasons, abandoned by the Sinagua people in the early 14th century. The more intriguing of the two is set in a shallow cave 100 feet up a cliff overlooking Beaver Creek. Construction on this five-story, 20-room village began sometime in the early 12th century. Because it has been protected from the elements by the cave’s overhanging roof, the original adobe mud that was used to plaster over the stone walls of the dwelling is still intact. Another structure, containing 45 rooms on six levels, stands at the base of the cliff; it has been subjected to rains and floods over the years and is not nearly as well-preserved as the cliff dwelling. In the visitor center, you’ll see artifacts unearthed from the two ruins. Eleven miles north (although still part of the national monument), Montezuma Well is a spring-fed sinkhole that was, for the Native peoples of this desert, a genuine oasis. This sunken pond was formed when a cavern in the area’s porous limestone bedrock collapsed. Underground springs quickly filled the sinkhole, which today contains a pond measuring more than 360 feet across and 65 feet deep. Over the centuries, the presence of year-round water attracted first the Hohokam and later the Sinagua people, who built irrigation canals to use the water for growing crops. Some of these channels can still be seen. Sinagua structures and an excavated Hohokam pit house built around 1100 are clustered in and near the sinkhole. To reach Montezuma Well, you have to get back on I-17 and go north; take exit 293.
Verde Valley› Attraction
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Exit 289 off I-17, USA
Our Rating Neighborhood Camp Verde Hours Daily 8am–5pm. Closed Christmas and New Year’s. Phone 928/567-3322 Prices $10 adults, free for kids 15 and under (combined entry with Tuzigoot National Monument, below); no charge to visit Montezuma Well Web site Montezuma Castle National Monument
MapExit 289 off I-17 USA Verde Valley
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