We’ve been driving by the exit sign for Montezuma Castle for two years. We never took the time to stop and explore until this past weekend. What an interesting place.
Montezuma Castle National Monument is about 50 miles south of Flagstaff, Arizona off I-17. Big exit sign! We parked and walked up to the visitor center to be greeted by a Desert Grassland Whiptail Lizard. It seemed he was just waiting to be photographed!
|The Greeter - Desert Grassland Whiptail|
The path from the Visitor Center was fairly short and the cliff we saw was very high. The castle is a 5 story, 20 room dwelling built into the cliff recess 100 feet above the valley. The Southern Sinagua farmers began building in the 1100’s Common Era.
It’s funny how places get named. The early settlers assumed this place was Aztec in origin and named it Montezuma Castle. We now know that Montezuma never came this far north from his home in Mexico. Down the path a bit is another building complex a little like an apartment complex. It is badly deteriorated but once had about 45 rooms.
There is a creek nearby that supplied water with fertile land that allowed farmers to plant crops.
In the center of the paved path a small kiosk housed a replica of what this area would have looked liked in the years of 1100 to 1450's.
This was really a fun stop and I’m sure full of birds and animals. It was just too hot for them (and us) in the middle of the day. We’ll go back in cooler weather!