So you find yourself driving between Phoenix and Flagstaff Arizona on good old I-17, and just happen to see one or two signs talking something about Montezuma’s Castle.
I think it would be well worth your time to stop and visit Montezuma Castle National Monument. It’s only a 10 to 15 minute drive from the main highway, and it’s great smaller national park . . . one which I have visited several times. In other words you can usually complete a tour of the site in about an hour.
It may not be the biggest National Park, but it is still a great place to visit and learn…. plus I happen to think that it is an important and impressive great little park.
Technically, it’s not a castle and it has nothing to do with that Aztec Emperor known as Montezuma I (1398–1469), fifth Aztec emperor. In the 1800’s, European Americans thought that it was some sort of Inca Aztec, or Maya ruins.
Even though it was established that the southern Sinagua farmers began bulding it over 700 years ago…. the name stuck. Go Figure.
No matter what, it IS an impressive five story, 20 room building that sits about a 100 feet above the high desert floor. It’s quite an impressive sight as you go around the corner and it comes into view. Really amazing sight in my opinion.
The information sign below the dwelling gives the following information:
- Montezuma Castle invites us to pause in wonder at the ingenuity of the people who began building it over 700 years ago.
- Ancestors to today’s Puebloan peoples built and occupied the Castle. We can speculate why they chose to build here and how they lived in this magnificent cliff dwelling.
- Both “Montezuma” and “Castle” are misnomers. In the 1800s, European Americans were fascinated with Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations and gave southwestern sites exotic names, in this case for Emperor Montezuma II — who lived long after the Castle was constructed.
- The Yavapai call this place “the home of the protectors of the Yavapai.” The Hopi refer to it as both Sakaytaka, “place where the step ladders are going up,” and Wupat’pela, for “long, high walls.”
- Due to looting, by the early 1900s much of what the Castle’s residents left behind was gone. Damage to the building increased as visitors climbed ladders to walk through the rooms. Now the dwelling is only accessed for inspection, maintenance, and research.The “Visitor Center” is a good place to read about the history and to see the numerous displays.
As I mentioned, it is a great little national park to tour, especially if you don’t have much time.
Also, for anyone interested in the history of Native Americans in Northern Arizona, specifically the Sinagua people. Dedicated in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Montezuma Castle gives you an opportunity to travel back nearly a thousand years to a time when the Sinagua people inhabited this amazing five-story cliff dwelling.
Let Arizona Corporate Coach bus charters in Phoenix help plan a day trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument & Montezuma’s Well.
Montezuma’s well is a very unique limestone sinkhole with an extremely high concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide You would think that would make this well void of any form of life, but that is not the case. Lots of turtles seem to enjoy this environment. You will want to spend some time checking out the well when you are visiting the castle.
Make sure to check out the visitor’s center at Montezuma’s Castle to view some of the artifacts found at this site. The Sinagua created amazing pottery and textiles.
This is a National Monument so there is an entrance fee. Visit Montezuma Castle National Monument for details of which passes are accepted.
Do not step off the trails. Both the Black-tailed Rattlesnake and the Western Diamondback live in this area. Although it is very unlikely that you would ever see one, due to their shyness of people, if you walk off the trail you are asking for an a possible encounter.
Always bring water and keep yourself hydrated in the desert climate.
Wear layered clothing and shoes suitable for a day of exploring.
Call Arizona Corporate Coach bus charters in Phoenix, at (602) 639-9312, to take you and your group on a day trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument & Montezuma’s Well. Call us to set this up.