Montezuma Castle National Monument

Around 35 people called Montezuma Castle home 700 to 900 years ago. This pueblo is built into a alcove in a cliff and is one of the best examples of a cliff-dwelling that remains today. It can only be viewed from 100 feet below as access to the inside of Montezuma Castle was closed to the public in 1951.

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Montezuma Castle

Cliff-dwellings make sense from a security standpoint – cliff dwellers cannot be easily attacked – but the time and hardship of building such a dwelling is baffling to me. Could you imagine hauling your food up there?

Montezuma Well is located 11 miles away. Over 10,000 years ago snow melted on a nearby mountain, then the water traveled underground and resurfaced in this well.  There is a 1/3 mile long trail that takes you along the cliffs surrounding the well.

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In the cliffs surrounding the well are more dwellings. The Swallet Side-trail leads to one of these dwellings. There was a group very slowly making there way down the 112 stairs to the Swallet Rooms. It was starting to get hot under the desert sun, so I opted for the somewhat shaded and less crowded Outlet Side-trail, which was pretty (added bonus: it only involved 45 stairs).

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more cliff-dwellings on the other side of Montezuma Well
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Outlet Trail

Montezuma Castle National Monument is located in between Flagstaff and Phoenix in Arizona. Tuzigoot National Monument is located nearby.