I have been driving by the road sign on I-17 that tell travelers what exit to take for the Montezuma Castle for many years. Each time I drive by that sign I was always busy and unable to stop. I finally stopped and it was well worth it.
Montezuma Castle National Monument is a great place to stop with the family. It is sure to impress everyone with the historical buildings of the Sinagua people, and the beautiful site.
Montezuma Castle was built by the Sinagua people that lived between 1100 and 1425 AD. The Northern Sinagua built the structures at Walnut Canyon National Monument between 1100 to 1250 AD.
The main structure is 5 stories high and about 45 – 60 rooms and was built over the course of 3 centuries. The five-story structure was built into the white limestone cliff about 70 feet above the ground. It is amazing they got all of that material up the cliff.
Beaver Creek is a small stream that runs below the Montezuma Castle. This gave Sinagua a reliable source of water all year round so a great place for the Sinagua to build their homes.
The name of this site name is incorrect in a historical sense. The site was first observed in the 1860s and named after the famous Aztec emperor Montezuma because the people who discovered it thought it belonged to the Aztecs. The “castle” was abandoned more than 40 years before Montezuma was born. The structure isn’t a “castle” but more of a high-rise village that housed many people. How they climb up to their rooms, I am not sure.
Thing To Do
Explore the visitor center with a small museum and bookstore. They have ancient tools and artifacts to look at in the museum. It gives you an idea of what it was like back when the ruin was occupied. In the bookstore, you can buy books about the history of the area.
You can wander the short and wide paved trail that is shaded by the tall sycamore groves that leads past the ruins and then loops back towards the visitor center. There are interactive displays explaining the history and go into detail about the ruin. The trail has benches you can rest at and the trees provide plenty of shade on a hot day.
There are picnic sites near the ruins where you can sit down and take in the area.
Don’t forget to talk with the friendly rangers. They are local experts and can give you even more information about the National Monument.
Montezuma Castle National Monument should be on your priority list of places to visit in Arizona. There is plenty of parking, an easy paved trail, and mind-blowing historical buildings of Arizona.
Just The Facts
There are a bookstore, restrooms, and picnic areas.
Open Daily 8 AM – 5 PM seven days a week except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Adults (16 and over) $10 which is good for 7 days at both Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monuments (https://www.nps.gov/tuzi/index.htm)