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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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Windows

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
montezumas castle national monument, arizona, history, cliff dwelling
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
montezumas castle national monument, arizona, history, ancient, cliff dwelling
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: Treecology by Monica Russo

The latest book I’ve reviewed for you is Treecology: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring the World of Trees and Forests by Monica Russo. [Amazon link here.] This thin paperback is accessible for both parents and teachers. It is packed full of the science to understand all parts of trees and the environments they grow…Continue Reading

Book Review: Leaflets Three, Let it Be! by Anita Sanchez

I recently received a book for the purposes of review that I’d like to share with you today. Leaflets Three, Let it Be! is a picture book for children about identifying poison ivy. But it also shows the many uses of the plant through the seasons. It is written by Anita Sanchez and illustrated by…Continue Reading

National Parks Week 2016, and Review of National Geographic Guides

April 16-24, 2016 has been designated National Parks Week. This national event is a time to focus on and celebrate all that the National Parks have to offer us. During this week, admission is free to all parks, and special events are planned at many sites. The Park Service has created a special website for this…Continue Reading

New Tools Can Light a Spark

The summer is winding down, and the new school year is only a few weeks away. I find my thoughts turning more to planning and organizing, even as we try to soak in the last weeks of summer. Yesterday, Annika and I visited our local homeschooling curriculum store, Homeschool Potpourri. This place lacks glamor, but…Continue Reading

2015 Northwest Flower and Garden Show

Romance! Flowers! Lush greenery! Excitement! My kids and I love the Flower and Garden Show. We look forward to it every year, and enjoy seeing the display gardens, shopping in the marketplace, learning from the seminars, and getting a jump-start on spring. This year Grandma got to spend the day with us, and it made…Continue Reading

Columbia Gorge Discovery Center – Spring Break 2014

This is the fifth post from our Spring Break Trip. We are almost done! The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. The fourth was about the Goldendale Observatory. We have one more destination to…Continue Reading

Goldendale Observatory

This is the fourth post from our Spring Break Trip. The first was about hikes from the Catherine Creek Trailhead.  The second post was about the Vista House and Gorge waterfalls.  The third was about camping and exploring at Columbia Hills State Park. Future posts will include: The Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center and History Museum in…Continue Reading

Othello Sandhill Crane Festival and Columbia NWR

The kids and I did our first big road trip adventure of the season on the last weekend in March.  We heard about a bird festival over in Central Washington, we had some free time, and we decided to go.  The kids had been requesting a trip to the desert, too, and no snowshoeing, please,…Continue Reading

Lewis Creek Park, Bellevue

We had the chance last Friday to check out a new park (for us) over in Bellevue.  Lewis Creek Park has about 3 miles of trails on its 55 acres.  It includes wetlands, meadows, and forests. Some of the trails are paved, and some are softer surfaces.  The Visitor Center has some interesting activities and…Continue Reading