Best Western PLUS Inn of Sedona
Day Trips from Sedona, Arizona
Montezuma Castle National Monument & Montezuma’s Well
By: Lisa Peters
While vacationing in Sedona, Arizona you have an unlimited variety of day trips to the surrounding areas that will both educate and spark the imagination of you and your family. One of my favorite day trips from Sedona would have to be to Montezuma Castle National Monument, located at 2800 Montezuma Castle Highway in Camp Verde. This is a perfect Sedona day trip for anyone interested in the history of Native Americans in Northern Arizona, specifically the Sinagua people. Dedicated in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Montezuma Castle gives you an opportunity to travel back nearly a thousand years to a time when the Sinagua people inhabited this amazing five-story cliff dwelling.
Recently a group of us decided to take a day trip and explore both Montezuma Castle National Monument & Montezuma’s Well. We started off on the relaxing scenic stroll at Montezuma Castle on their 1/3 mile self guided loop. We were overwhelmed at the vision of the cliff dwelling high in the limestone cliffs. When you look at the dwelling you can’t help but imagine the intellect and creativity the Sinagua people had to be able to survive in this desert landscape. You can feel the presence of the people that inhabited the area as you walk along the pathway surrounded by giant old sycamore trees and the flowing Beaver Creek.
The Sinagua people are believed to have lived in this area for around four hundred years and then, for no apparent reason, they vanished. No one seems to have an answer for their disappearance. There are a lot of theories and conjectures, but it still remains a mystery to this day.
From Montezuma Castle we headed about 11 miles north on Route 17 to visit Montezuma’s Well (still an active spring). Montezuma’s well is a very unique limestone sinkhole with an extremely high concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide You would think that would make this well void of any form of life, but that is not the case. One common amphibian you can almost always catch a glimpse of is a turtle. Turtles seem to thrive in this particular environment. The Well itself is amazingly blue and hosts unique organism that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Relax and explore the trails, especially the trail by the Swallet Ruin that lends shade on a hot summer day. Montezuma’s Well welcomes you to explore, but please remember that the well is considered sacred by many local tribes, show respect for the environment you are in.
- Make sure to check out the visitor’s center at Montezuma’s Castle to view some of the artifacts found at this site. The Sinagua created amazing pottery and textiles.
- This is a National Monument so there is an entrance fee. Visit Montezuma Castle National Monument for details of which passes are accepted.
- Do not step off the trails. Both the Black-tailed Rattlesnake and the Western Diamondback live in this area. Although it is very unlikely that you would ever see one, due to their shyness of people, if you walk off the trail you are asking for an introduction.
- Always bring water and keep yourself hydrated in the desert climate.
- Wear layered clothing and shoes suitable for a day of exploring.