On our fourth day in Arizona, we reluctantly said goodbye to our lovely cabin in the woods northwest of Flagstaff, and moved our families south to Tucson. Along the way, we stopped at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. This park is smaller than the others we’d visit on our trip, but it’s a unique treasure and I’m glad we were able to take the time to visit.
The name of the monument came from early explorers who mistakenly thought the structure was related to the Aztec emperor Montezuma. It was not a castle, but instead was a collective living structure for the Sinaguan people.
We spent some time in the Visitor Center, which has some informative and interesting displays about the history, conservation, and natural setting of the site.
Beaver Creek flows below the living areas, and tall trees shade the grounds. Cacti and birds also abound, and we saw a snake in the shrubs. In the warm spring weather, it was a delightful environment, and I felt like I wanted to linger.
The trail is paved and short. The walk is short, and small children won’t have any problems navigating it.
You get to get very close to the ruins, and look right up at them. Kids will enjoy trying to imagine what it might have been like to live there thousands of years ago.
We saw that there were signs for ranger programs that take place at the Monument. I would like to go back someday and attend a bird walk with a naturalist some early morning. There is another section of the park that we were not able to visit called Montezuma’s Well. It was an important source of water for ancient native peoples, and has a half-mile trail past ancient cliff dwellings and a pit house, along with interpretive information. If you are planning to go to both, go to the Castle first, because they have the background information you need. The Well is 11 miles away from the Castle.
After leaving the Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, we went out for lunch, and then continued down to Tucson. We arrived in the evening at our new home for the rest of our vacation week: a sprawling hacienda near the boundary of Saguaro National Park. It had a pool and a yard full of native plants. It was a relaxing place to be during our off-hours.