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.

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.


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).

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

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