We visited Montezuma Castle National Monument this morning. What an awesome place! It’s one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The inhabitants (the Sinagaua) of the cliff dwellings are believed to have left the area over 600 years ago and they inhabited the area for over 400 years! The ‘high-rise apartments’ stand 100 to 150 feet above ground (5-stories & 20 rooms) and were re-stuccoed twice….once in the 1920s and again in 1997ish. Until 1951, visitors were allowed to climb a series of three ladders to gain access to the rooms but due to lots of damage to the ruins public access was discontinued.
Just a short distance from Montezuma Castle is the ruin of what has been dubbed as Castle A. The ruins of a 5-story, 45-50 room cliff dwelling that pre-dates Montezuma Castle. You can still see the hollowed out spots in the cliff-side where the wooden beams originally were. When they excavated the area in 1933 they found lots of artifacts and found that the Castle A was lost to a fire.
From there we drove about 11 miles north to the Montezuma Well. Before visiting the well we stopped in the picnic area at the entrance of the Well and ate lunch. There’s a nice little park with several picnic tables and a restroom and there were several other groups that decided to have lunch there too.
Montezuma Well is like a lake in the middle of the desert. It’s actually limestone sink formed when a huge underground cavern collapsed hundreds of years ago. It’s fed by an underground spring that flows continuously…even in times of drought! Here too, the Sinagua people made their homes in the sides of the cliffs and some of the ruins still remain. I found it interesting that after all these years there is still black soot from fires that the inhabitants used to cook and keep warm.
As we drove around we also came upon a roadside stand that was selling Indian Fry Bread…fresh made right there and then. There was an older woman (selling jewelry) and her son (making the fry bread) run the stand. We had a nice chat while our fry bread was being made. It was $3.00 and you had a choice of toppings (cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, honey or salt) or you could eat it plain. We chose powdered sugar…and was it yummy! Very similar to a funnel cake.