Montezuma’s Castle & Well
Many people think that Montezuma’s Castle has something to do with the King of the Aztecs. However, early settlers to the area, gave it that name because they thought the ruins were from the Conquest of Mexico by the Aztec King. In fact, it was not.
Sedona & Verde Valley Rich In Ruins
There are hundreds of ruins all over Sedona and the Verde Valley. Some evidence exist that primitive hunter-gatherers inhabited this area as much as 10,000 years ago!
Montezuma’s Castle and Well is the last vestige of Sinagua. You might also gather that the Sinagua were cliff dwellers by how high the dwellings are! A little more info about the Sinagua include, they were a people who came from the north inhabited the area anywhere from 500 AD to 650 AD and left between 1200 AD to 1450 AD approximately. Nobody really understands why they left. Did they leave because of war, disease, drought, lack of farming capability? I might also note that the castle was abandoned almost a century before Montezuma was born!
The Verde Valley is a fertile land and has been settled by many cultures throughout history. Three rivers pass through the valley. Oak Creek, Verde River, and Beaver Creek. Montezuma’s Castle sits close to Beaver Creek. It is the perfect area to provide shelter, irrigate crops with water from the well and Beaver Creek. Remnants from the canals that irrigated the land are still visible.
It is a natural corridor between the Sonora Desert (Phoenix, Tucson and northern Mexico) and the Colorado Plateau (Flagstaff & 4 Corners region). Modern day, Intersate 17 connects Northern Arizona to Central Arizona.
Directions To Montezuma Castle
The castle is about 3 miles off Interstate 17. Take Exit 289 and follow the signs.
My husband and I decided to visit on a warn summer afternoon. The large visitor center is air conditioned and explains all the history and displays artifacts and renditions of how the 5 story structure with 20 rooms was built. If you come in the summer, you will find many trees that offer shade. The marked path through the monument is easy to navigate, is a pleasant walk and provides many vantage points. There is a nominal fee to get in to see the actual ruins. You will find that the visitor center is free! Montezuma’s Well has no fee. There is a stepped path that has a moderate incline but is easy to walk. The steps are shallow and long and some areas offer a railing to hold.
I highly recommend seeing both the castle and the well. They compliment each other and fill in the gaps of how the community might have irrigated their crops.
I would allow a half a day to enjoy the history and culture but you could probably do both in 2.5 hours. We had to rush through the well because the park was closing. There are some spots you can climb dow to get close to the water and we had to pass on that due to time constraints.
Located near Sedona. and Camp Verde, Montezuma’s Well is a major limestone sinkhole that dates back to prehistoric times. Besides travelers, nature and historical as well as other guests, the well attracts other “visitors”looking for refuge or water. It boasts it’s own eco system that will become quite evident as you circle through the path. What appears to be more of a desert landscape from the parking lot changes as you walk around. If you have never seen an oasis, this may be very close.
As you can see, even Montezuma’s Well had Cliff Dwellings
Details About the Well
The well is fed by natural springs that pump around 1.5 million gallons of water into the sink hole every day. The well is 368 feet wide with a depth of 55 feet. There is an ancient canal that is fed from the sink hole which you can see as you travel the path. It is believed that the Sinagua people built this canal for irrigation purposes and to carry water back to their dwellings. You will find the canal below the well close to Beaver Creek. It is surrounded by thick forest like vegetation. Imagine the Sinagua enjoying this area on a hot summer afternoon. They would get a respite from the work day to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Montezuma’s Well is about 11 miles from Montezuma’s Castle. Take Interstate 17 to exit 293 and follow the signs.
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