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Spring Break 2017 – Montezuma’s Castle

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Closeup of Montezuma’s Castle

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.

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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.

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Montezuma’s Castle Visitor Center

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.

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Beaver Creek, the Source of Water

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.

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Beautiful Tree Bark Patterns
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Easy Path

The trail is paved and short. The walk is short, and small children won’t have any problems navigating it.

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Part of Montezuma’s Castle NM
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Ancient Ruins

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.

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More Holes in the Cliffs, and Foundations at Ground Level
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Artist’s Reproduction of What it Looked Like

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.

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Our Hacienda’s Back Yard near Tucson

Book Review: Take A Walk: Seattle by Sue Muller Hacking

  The month of March brought some newly published hiking books across my desk. Take A Walk: Seattle, by Sue Muller Hacking (Fourth Edition, Sasquatch Books) is one that I’m impressed with. I’ve been flipping through this book quite a bit this spring, and am surprised that there are trails near me that I haven’t explored yet.…Continue Reading

Spring Break 2017 – Jerome, AZ and the Sedona Area

On our first day in Arizona, my parents picked us up from the airport, and we drove up to Flagstaff to get groceries before we went to our cabin near Williams. We got quite a surprise when it started snowing in Flagstaff! That was not what drew us to Arizona, after one of the gloomiest,…Continue Reading

Tolmie State Park, TR 3/17/17

I recently had the chance to drop my kids off with Grandma in the South Sound, and I had the afternoon free to do a hike by myself. Since I was already down there, I thought I should check out a new trail for the website. I picked Tolmie State Park, northwest of Olympia on…Continue Reading

Semiahmoo Park – Trip Report, 3/10/17

We recently took an afternoon and drove up to Semiahmoo Spit near Blaine to do some birding and check out a new-to-us trail. Semiahmoo Spit is a long sand spit that protects Drayton Harbor. Historically this area was used by Native Americans for harvesting natural resources, and it became an abundant salmon canning area after…Continue Reading

Urban Trails: Kitsap by Craig Romano – Book Review

Many of you are familiar with Craig Romano, the prolific and energetic guidebook writer for Washington State. We use his books all the time to plan our hikes to wild and scenic locations. But it’s not always easy to get out to true wilderness. With iffy weather, packed schedules, family illnesses – sometimes we need…Continue Reading

North Loop Snowshoe, Hoodoo, OR, TR, 2/19/17

Over the long President’s Day weekend, when we were visiting my brother, we drove up to Hoodoo ski area to do a snowshoe. This huge sno-park has a solid network of ski and snowshoe trails to choose from. We chose a kid-friendly trail to one of the warming huts – the North Loop Trail. We…Continue Reading