1906: National Monument
About the SiteAncient natives living in central Arizona began building this impressive 5-story, 20-room dwelling in the 12th century A.D. It rests in a cliff recess about 100 feet above the valley bottom, close to Beaver Creek. Early European settlers thought Aztecs built the structure and so called it Montezuma's Castle, but we know now that the earlier dwellers we call the Sinagua who are responsible for this well-preserved building.
What You're Going to SeeA well-preserved Sinagua structure rises before our eyes as we walk along a paved path. It's impressive, resting under a rock overhang beneath a sheer cliff. Visitors aren't allowed up into the rooms themselves, for they are too delicate. But the path gets us close enough for pictures, and to wonder how they climbed up there. Did they drag water up every day? Did they build up so high on the cliff to avoid enemies? Did their children ever fall off the edge?
Personal ObservationsI enjoyed both aspects of this Monument. This was the first part I visited after buying the Passport, so it's the first stamp I have and that means a lot. The Castle, high up under the cliff, is very impressive, but the kids were disappointed that they couldn't scramble up to explore it. We enjoyed walking around the nature path, learing about the Sinagua culture and Arizona wildlife. As always, the Park personnel were cheerful and helpful with all our inane questions.
Getting ThereFrom Phoenix, go north on I-17; from Flagstaff, go south on I-17. Take exit #289 and follow the signs north to Montezuma Castle.
Nearby Attractions85 miles to the southeast lies Tonto National Monument. Meteor Crater is 50 miles northeast. To the north, 40 miles away, is Walnut Canyon National Monument; 60 miles away, is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and 80 miles away is Wupatki National Monument; 100 miles away is the border of Grand Canyon National Park. 20 miles to the northwest is Tuzigoot National Monument.