The day was spent heading north from Tucson to the Grand Canyon. However, we decided to follow a suggestion we got from Mr. Ratkevich at Tucson Mineral and Gem World to visit Montezuma Castle along the way.
Montezuma Castle is cliff dwelling located in Arizona between Phoenix and Flagstaff. It is the best preserved cave dwelling in the United States. It is believed to have been built by the Sinagua people around 1100 A.D. The dwelling consists of 5 floors and 20 rooms. The name Montezuma Castle is unfitting though. It is not really a castle and the Aztec ruler Montezuma was never here. As a matter of fact, these dwellings were built long before he ever lived.
It is hard to get a perspective of height and distance from two dimensional pictures but these dwellings are about 100 feet high on the cliff.
Here is a video I found that talks a little bit more about Montezuma Castle:
There is a path that lets you walk along the side of the cliff and look at all the little caves from a distance. Although in the past, visitors have been able to climb up ladders and tour the dwellings, this access ended in the 1950's due to damage and concern for safety. So now visitors just have to admire the caves from the ground. But Stuart had to challenge the "No Climbing" sign.
And, of course, monkey see, monkey do...Oh how amazing it would be to climb up there and see the actual rooms of Montezuma Castle!
Here is a diorama of how the inside of the cliff dwelling might have looked like when it was an active and busy home.
There are often demonstrations and activities at Montezuma Castle. To find out what will be happening when you visit, check out the Montezuma Castle Facebook page.
We wanted to stop by the Montezuma Well which is another National Monument. It was about a 20 minute drive out of the way. However, we were trying to get to the Grand Canyon in time to see it at sunset so we couldn't spare the time to stop. Sometimes you have to choose to give up the good to get the great....
As we headed farther north, we started to see bigger mountains and even some with snow caps!
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