Thursday, April 29, 2010

Montezuma Castle National Monument

When one is looking for an outdoor site to visit on a windy day in northern Arizona, we recommend the Montezuma Castle National Monument. Some of the earliest miners and soldiers to discover this cliff dwelling believed it to be an Aztec ruin built for their emperor, Montezuma. Hence the name. Archaeologists now believe it was the Sinagua people that built and inhabited this structure.

A short walking trail below the castle affords views of the cliff structure and rare protection from the sun and wind. The bottom level of the castle is about 100 feet off the valley floor, and past visitors used ladders to access the rooms, much like it is believed the previous inhabitants did.

Here's a closer view of the five levels of living and working quarters. Before 1951 visitors were allowed to climb ladders up to and inside the building, exploring each of the rooms as they were left hundreds of years ago (excepting the looting and vandalizing that occurred earlier). By 1951 it was apparent the structure was being loved to death, so only Park Service personnel are allowed access now.

This pleasant little oasis in the desert was a delightful surprise both in its comfortable climate and abundance of vegetation. The white-barked trees along the path above are Arizona Sycamores that seem to be pretty prolific in riparian regions like this.

This is Ranger Laura describing another structure to some guests. The foundation walls visible here are only a few hundred feet from the cliff dwelling, and may have been part of a larger housing structure. Unfortunately, we have no written history of the original structure since it had collapsed by the time of the first recorded visitors.

This beautiful little meadow appears to fare well in the Arizona climate, and may have been the location of gardens or orchards for the Sinagua that lived here. The cliffs are partially composed of limestone, which when washed down into the meadow, probably acted as a natural fertilizer for the valley floor.

Beaver Creek runs less than 100 yards from the dwellings, and was doubtless an important aspect of the success of the community.

What does one do with spare time back at the timeshare? Sewing, of course! Doesn't everyone travel with a sewing machine in tow? Here's Karen working on her quilt block...

... while Lily creates a mockup of a new dress on the living room floor. Thanks for visiting!


  1. How did your quilt block go? :)3rd Saturday is coming up again soon!

  2. Sheri -- Karen's block is done, and Gretel's is in process...

  3. How wonderful that you brought your sewing machines! I can't wait to see what y'all are working on!!!

    See ya soon!!!