We had risen early planning to visit Montezuma Castle an ancient cliff dwelling south of Sedona. The road took us through a scenic drive among the red rocks that are synonymous with the area and then down to a dirt track (we seemed to be travelling on a lot of those at the time) when we come across another National Monument called Montezuma Well. This is a sinkhole; a collapsed underground limestone cavern filled with water. More than a million gallons of water a day flow continuously in the Well, creating a lush, verdant oasis in the midst of the surrounding desert grassland. Montezuma Well is 368 feet across and 55 feet deep. There is a short trail that took us down to the Well floor and we were amazed to see the ancient dwellings on the sidewalls and along the edge of the well. Climbing back up to the top of the Well rim we follow another trail to where the spring water from the Well had cut through the limestone to form a stream. This stream had been diverted by the ancient locals to act as irrigation to their fields where they grew their crops. Although this was not a planned trip we had a really enjoyable time here.
From Montezuma Well, we went further south to the country’s first National Monument; Montezuma Castle. This five-storey cliff dwelling was built by the Sinaquas, an Ancient Indian Tribe about 700 years ago, which they later abandoned in around 1400. Interestingly, the name Montezuma Castle was a mistaken name. Early settlers who discovered the cliff dwelling ruins erroneously connected them to the Aztec emperor Montezuma, but in fact, the Sinagua ruins had been abandoned a hundred years before Montezuma was even born. The dwellings weren’t a castle at all, but a multi-family “prehistoric high rise apartment complex”. It took ladders to climb to Montezuma Castle and as the Sinagua reached each level, the ladders made their way to the cliff community making it difficult for enemy tribes to penetrate the natural defence of straight-vertical barriers.
This was another chance for Jack and Emily to do a field trip, so we got them to do the Junior Ranger program in the visitors centre. It was only a short walk to the ruins from the visitor’s centre and it was such a glorious day.
As we travelled along the trail we could not but help notice a couple of concerning signs. On warned of rattlesnakes, the second was somewhat more curious, saying not to approach the squirrels as they may carry the bubonic plague infection. Black Death in the National Parks! Karen didn’t believe this could happen in such a litigious society! We later expected to hear of the mysterious disappearance of all the park’s squirrels. The trail we followed took us to Beaver Creek, which was a lifeline to the Sinagua Indians. Today it is just a glorious backdrop, sparkling in the early afternoon sun to the cliff ruins. We reached the ruins which were quite spectacular, particularly when you consider that these people did not have metal tools to help in the construction of these dwellings.
Planning your visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument
Directions: Follow I-17 to exit 289 (90 minutes north of Phoenix, 45 minutes south of Flagstaff).
Drive east (through two traffic circles) for approximately 1/2 mile to the blinking red light. Turn left onto Montezuma Castle Road.
|Address:||Montezuma Castle Rd, Camp Verde, AZ, United States|
Open Daily: 8 am – 5 pm (Last Vehicle Entry at 4:45)
Open seven days a week with the exception of Christmas Day and New Years Day
$10 per adult fee.
Best time to visit Sedona, Arizona
The best time to visit Sedona is from March to May when the temperatures are warm – but not scorching – and the area is in full bloom. Hikers love this season, as desert flowers add a pop of color to the rust-colored trails. September to November is another ideal time for outdoor activities like Jeep tours and biking thanks to mild weather. Spring and fall are characterized by blue sunny skies and temps ranging from the mid-60s to the low 80s, however, travelers should note that these are the most popular times to visit and room rates are high. If you’re looking for cheaper rooms, consider visiting in the winter, when most tourists head farther south for warmer weather. There really is no bad time to visit Sedona, as the weather is pretty great year-round.
Where to stay in Sedona
1. COZY CACTUS B&B
Offering a barbecue and mountain views, Cozy Cactus Bed and Breakfast is located in Sedona, 29 mi from Flagstaff. Free private parking is available on site.
All rooms include a flat-screen TV and DVD player. Certain units include a seating area for your convenience. A terrace or balcony are featured in certain rooms. Every room comes with a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes and free toiletries. Cozy Cactus Bed and Breakfast features free WiFi throughout the property.
You will find a shared lounge at the property.
2. SEONA PINES RESORT
3. WHISPERING CREEK B&B
The Whispering Creek B&B offers you lodging and breathtaking views of the Sedona Red Rock Mountains right from your door. There are 4 well-appointed guest rooms. At this B&B, breathtaking views, historical relevance, and intimate privacy fuse with the relaxing and healing energy of Sedona.
Whether you dream of a fabulous Arizona Outdoor Adventure vacation, an intimate Sedona wedding, or a memorable weekend getaway, you’ll enjoy your stay at The Whispering Creek Bed and Breakfast