Our friends, Judy and Roy, and Mike all supported my quest to get my National Park passport stamped wherever possible. It never failed in helping us find interesting places to visit and edifying history lessons. Montezuma Castle and Well were no different.
Nestled in the Verde Valley of Arizona along Beaver Creek is a 20-room castle built into a tall and steep cliff. This may not match the modern day definition of castle, as it was home to the Sinagua people who inhabited and thrived in the area 600 years ago.
Below are photos of a diorama of how the structure may have looked when the Sinagua people inhabited the area. It shows them working and managing resources to sustain daily life.
Eleven miles down the road is Montezuma Well National Monument. It is a natural limestone sinkhole fed by an underground spring. The water is highly carbonated and contains high levels of arsenic. The alkalinity precludes normal fish and wildlife to exist in the waters, but there are five indigenous species living exclusively in the Well. These include species of snails, scorpions, and leeches which exist nowhere else. There is no swimming in Montezuma’s Well and it was used mainly for irrigation over the hundreds of years of existence. It was formed around 600 AD. The local Yavapai Native American tribe call it Hakthkyava, and it is a deeply sacred site because they believe it was where their people emerged.
We had a wonderful day exploring the homes and resources of the Sinagua people and the tribes who inhabited the area after them. Both sites have beautiful views and interesting plant and animal life.
Have you visited Montezuma Castle or Well? Since it wasn’t an Aztec site and Montezuma was never there, were you curious how they got their names?
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