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Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument
P. O. Box 219
Camp Verde, Arizona 86322

Phone
Visitor Center
(928) 567-3322
Park Headquarters
(928) 567-5276

Explore Montezuma Castle National Monument!

Gaze through the windows of the past into one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. This 20 room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a 1,000 year-old story of ingenuity and survival in an unforgiving desert landscape.

Marveling at this enduring legacy of the Sinagua culture reveals a people surprisingly similar to ourselves.

Visiting Montezuma Well

Montezuma Well, a unit of Montezuma Castle National Monument, is a place like no other in the world. This unique geologic feature is located 11 miles from Montezuma Castle and is home to species of animals found nowhere else on the planet. Take your time as you wander the trails exploring pre-historic Sinaguan cliff dwellings, pueblo ruins, and a 1,000 year old irrigation ditch that still in use by local residents today!
Visit Montezuma Castle National Monument and witness the incredible legacy of a people who struggled to survive in the Verde Valley 1,000 years ago.

Things to Do

Set aside a few hours to explore the museum and roam the trails through a scenic sycamore grove at the base of towering limestone cliffs. Enjoy your lunch in our picnic area along the shore of Beaver Creek.

History

On December 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt celebrated the passage of the Antiquities Act by declaring four sites of historic and cultural significance as our nation's first National Monuments. 

Among these was Montezuma Castle, which the President identified as a place "of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest." Although very few original artifacts remained in the structure due to intensive looting of the site, Roosevelt's decision assured the continued protection of one of the best preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings in North America.

Montezuma Castle National Monument quickly became a destination for America's first car-bound tourists. In 1933, "Castle A", a 45-50 room, pueblo ruin was excavated, uncovering a wealth of artifacts and greatly enhanced our understanding of the Sinagua people who inhabited this riparian "oasis" along Beaver Creek for over 400 years.

Early visitors to the monument were allowed access to the structure by climbing a series of ladders up the side of the limestone cliffs. However, due to extensive damage to this valuable cultural landmark, public access of the ruins was discontinued in 1951.

Now, approximately 350,000 people a year gaze through the windows of the past during a visit to Montezuma Castle. Even 600 years after their departure, the legacy of the Sinagua people continues to inspire the imaginations of this and future generations.

Nature

Montezuma Castle National Monument encompasses 826 acres and lies in the Verde Valley at the junction of the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range physiographic provinces. Although the climate is arid with less than 12 inches of rainfall annually, several perennial streams thread their way from upland headwaters to the Verde Valley below, creating lush riparian ribbons of green against an otherwise parched landscape of rolling, juniper-covered hills.

From the mineral-rich Black Hills to the south, to the red and white sandstone country of Sedona and the basalt-capped palisades of the Mogollon Rim to the north, to the limestone hills of the Verde Valley, the dynamic nature of the Earth's geologic processes is evident in the landforms surrounding the monument.

The monument contains numerous species of plants, such as mesquite, catclaw, and saltbush, which have adapted to life in an arid environment, but, due to the micro-habitats provided by the riparian corridors, also hosts populations of moisture-loving plants such as monkeyflower and columbine. 

The tall, large-leaved mesic species of trees, such as sycamore and cottonwood, found only in the riparian corridors, stand in stark contrast to the xeric species found on neighboring lands. The unique aquatic habitat found in Montezuma Well, a collapsed limestone sinkhole, contains organisms found nowhere else in the world which have evolved in response to the unique mineralization of the water.

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