Montezuma Castle [Arizona]

I’ve had Mesa Verde National Monument on my to-visit list for decades and I still haven’t made it over there (yet). Cliff dwellings have always fascinated me, so when we were in the Phoenix area and our friend Kristie asked if I’d seen the cliff dwellings near Cottonwood, our next destination, I was intrigued. I’ve been to the area twice before and had no idea there cliff dwellings nearby.  “Look up Montezuma Castle,” she told me, so on the drive from Las Vegas I did. 

Tucked away, in the side of a cliff along Creek in northern Arizona, is the oddly-named Montezuma Castle. It was built by the Southern Sinagua people nearly a thousand years ago, though the first American settlers thought it might be Incan—hence the name. The structure is five-stories tall and have 20 rooms it it, housing about 35 folks. The area used to be home to hundreds with another cliff dwelling just down the way.  Unfortunately, it has since deteriorated to the point of simply being some cavates and ledges. 

We headed there early this morning to see it for ourselves and I will admit that at first glance it’s much smaller than expected, but the wonder of it is really no less at all.  The fact that people climbed ladders (that they had constructed themselves) hauling mud, logs and grasses up 100 feet to build a multi-story home on a cliff face is pretty damn mind-blowing and puts my whine about having to re-pack the RV with every move in the proper perspective. 

That said, I would have liked to have been a tourist when they allowed folks to climb newly-constructed ladders to look around inside. They park allowed it until 1951 when they closed it down and put the lovely diorama (pic above) for tourists to see a little of what the inside is like.

And of course, we had to snap a selfie to prove we made it. 🙂

Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot National Monument are both close by, so we’ll see if we can get to them before the week is over, but I’m grateful to have Sedona’s Red Rock State Park and Montezuma Castle crossed off the to-visit list.  On to the next adventure! 

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