Located in Camp Verde, Arizona, Montezuma Castle National Monument preserves dwellings that were built and used by the Sinagua people between about 1100 and 1425 AD. The Sinagua people are a pre-Columbian culture that are closely connected to the Hohokam and other indigenous peoples of the southwest.
Made of five stories and including about 45 to 60 rooms, the main structure was built over 300 years. European-Americans initially came across the ruins in the 1860’s and mistakenly believed that Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, had been a part of their construction. The site actually has no connection to the Aztecs, however people had an incorrect image of the Aztecs developing any archaeological site. The dwelling is not a castle and operated as a sort of prehistoric high rise apartment complex. Ancestors of several Hopi clans and Yavapai communities can be traced to the Montezuma Castle and Beaver Creek area.
If you are looking for a glimpse into the past, Montezuma Castle National Monument has a lot to offer, as do the lands that surround it. Take in the beautiful scenery during your visit, as well as impressive architecture from long ago.
From Phoenix, take I-17 north for 90.2 miles. Take exit 289 toward Montezuma Castle National Monument.
Parking is available throughout the park.
Public transportation is not available to Montezuma Castle National Monument.
If you are looking for a place to spend a night or two during your visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument, Clear Creek Campground is an excellent choice. Located next to West Clear Creek, which is popular for hiking, wading and fishing, the campground is grassy and flat, with cottonwood trees offering plenty of shade.
Campsites can accommodate tents as well as RV’s and trailers that are up to 36 feet long. The campground does not offer hookups, however drinking water and vault toilets are available and each site has a picnic table, fire pit, and cooking grill.
There are also two group sites; one has space for 1-30 people and the second for 31-80 people. There is also a large group day use area. Group sites and the day use area require reservations while individual sites are first-come, first served. Enjoy easy access to the Montezuma Castle National Monument as well as to the amenities of Camp Verde.
During your visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument, you can easily view the main attraction - the Montezuma “Castle”. The Monument has a self-guided loop trail that will take you past the five-story cliff dwelling, where you can marvel at its structure and how well-built it is to still be standing today.
The trail is about 1/3 of a mile in length and you will enjoy a walk through a sycamore grove and along Beaver Creek. In addition to the cliff dwelling, you can view tall limestone cliffs.
Plan your visit to Montezuma Castle National Monument around a midday meal or snack and visit the picnic area near the shore of Beaver Creek, which is one of the few streams that flow year-round in the state of Arizona.
While you enjoy your meal or snack, take in the beautiful scenery surrounding you and relax to the sound of the water flowing in the creek. Take some time to think about the Sinagua people and their efforts to survive hundreds of years ago as you enjoy the same landscape that they once did.
About 11 miles north of the Montezuma Castle National Monument is Montezuma Well. The area includes cliff dwellings along the rim, large pueblo ruins, and an ancient pit house.
Visiting Montezuma Well will demonstrate just how inventive the Sinagua people were. As you explore Montezuma Well, take some time to think about the tools and equipment that were not available when these dwellings were created; it is hard to not be impressed with the efforts of those who constructed them.
While visiting Montezuma Castle National Monument, you can take the opportunity to explore what Cape Verde has to offer. One place to check out is the Out of Africa Wildlife Park.
Aiming to educate as well as entertain, visitors can enjoy safaris, tours, walks, observations, and shows at the Park. Animals have spacious natural habitats; you can see Bengal and Siberian tigers, lions, snakes, hyenas, and more as you enjoy the park.
Less than 40 minutes from Camp Verde and the Montezuma Castle National Monument is the city of Sedona. With multi-hued rock formations rising from the desert floor, the surroundings of Sedona change with the light, creating a visual masterpiece.
Sedona is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, offering limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Sedona has even more to offer; recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal, visitors come to experience vortex energy centers. There are also art galleries, spa facilities, vineyards, and fine dining.
While in Camp Verde, take the time to visit the Verde Valley Archaeology Center, where you can learn about the area’s many archaeological sites. The center is responsible for preserving, collecting, and curating a variety of sites and artifacts while partnering with the community.
As you explore the center, you can increase your understanding of American Indian history as well as archaeology. Take in an exhibit that displays examples of prehistoric basketry as well as one featuring prehistoric life in Camp Verde.