Arizona, North America

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Located close to highway 17 in almost the center of Arizona, Montezuma Castle National Monument is the perfect place to stop and explore on your road trip across the Southwest of the United States. 

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle National Monument

After spending 5 days in the Phoenix, Arizona area in July, something I will never do voluntarily again, (Can you say 118 degrees?) we hopped in our car and headed north 100 miles, into the mountainous area where Montezuma Castle National Monument is located. Thankfully it wasn’t 118 degrees when we stopped for our short walk.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

The Castle

Montezuma Castle was built about 1000 years ago by the Sinagua people. It is a 5 story tall structure with about 60 rooms. As you can see in the photos, it is built into the side of a mountain, about 90 feet up. Being 1000 years ago, I wonder how they built something so intricate and big.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Archeologists believe the dwelling was built so high up to avoid the floods that happened every year during monsoon season. They also believe that the “castle” was built of limestone blocks that were in the creek bed, 90 feet below, and mud from the creek bed.

The Singua people lived here for approximately 600 years before they, and other people settled in the Southwest, abandoned their sites and moved on. I wrote about our visit to Casa Grande National Monument and the same thing happened there. It is unknown why the areas were abandoned or where the people went.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Additional Information

While visiting the area, you will be able to walk on paths and read about the area and history. I found this beautiful flower growing on it’s own. I don’t know what kind of flower it is, but I was impressed it was able to grow there.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

There is also a diorama of what Montezuma Castle is thought to have looked like during its occupancy. Because of it’s location, it was well preserved over time, although it was heavily looted in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until President Theodore Roosevelt declared it a U.S. National Monument in 1906, naming it one of the first four National Monuments.

If you plan to stop, and I highly recommend it, plan on a couple hours to walk around and take it all in. There is also a guided tour by the park rangers you can take. If you have a National Parks Pass, you can us that to gain entry as well. Do you like visiting ruins and learning about past cultures? What have been your favorites?

Montezuma Castle National Monument

 

 

Montezuma Castle National Monument

 

 

You Might Also Like

18 Comments

  • Reply Nicole Hunter February 12, 2020 at 10:46 am

    Wait! There is a castle in the southwest of the USA?? This looks very cool and I love the indigenous history that is attached to it. I can’t imagine being in Arizona in July but I am glad you were able to enjoy a little bit of the outdoors while viewing this castle in the mountains.

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:56 am

      Yes, that July visit was a rookie mistake. Montezuma Castle was quite interesting to visit. Castles come in lots of different shapes and sizes I guess.

  • Reply Freya February 12, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    This looks fantastic Kathleen! I wonder if the mystery of why the Singua people abandoned the castle will ever be solved. Another US National Monument to add to my long list 🙂

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:55 am

      I wonder that too. There was another group of people close to Tucson from the Hohokain era that also disappeared with no explanation. They settled a place that is currently called Casa Grande that is quite interesting as well. There is a post on this site about it if you are interested.

  • Reply Soumya Gayatri February 12, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    I love exploring ruins. And they are my favorite things to do on literally every trip I take. So, you can guess how much the Montezuma Castle intrigues me. It is fascinating how the ancient people built something so complicated and huge without all the powerful tools we have today. I will make sure I will include this on my Arizona itinerary. But not in the summer!

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:50 am

      I agree. I’m always amazed by what ancient people were able to accomplish. Of course, those things were built to last.

  • Reply Catherine February 12, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Wow – this is so interesting. I love learning the history of castles and ruins. The first time I’m reading about this castle and it’s definitely something I’d like to check out one day!

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:46 am

      I hope you do. It was very interesting.

  • Reply Sharon February 12, 2020 at 10:10 pm

    118 degrees in Phoenix! Yikes! I got stuck reading there for a minute …Montezuma Castle looks like so much fun to explore. The way it’s built into the rock formation is awesome.

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:45 am

      It was a really impressive thing for me to see. That temperature was crazy hot though. Next visit is in the spring.

  • Reply Hailey February 13, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    I’m embarrassed to say I’d never heard of this monument before. I’ve been to Phoenix many times but totally missed this. I can’t believe it has 60 rooms!

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:44 am

      The United States has so many parks and monuments that it’s hard to know them all. I hope you will be able to explore the area when you visit Phoenix again.

  • Reply Yukti Agrawal February 15, 2020 at 7:23 am

    This Montezuma castle National monument which is located close to highway 17 in almost the center of Arizona looks like the perfect place to stop and explore when going for road trip across the Southwest of the United States. I never this castle monument before reading your post. It has interesting history attached to it. Never knew that the Singua people lived here for approximately 600 years before.

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:42 am

      It was an interesting place to visit for certain. I’m so glad I was able to go.

  • Reply Jennifer February 15, 2020 at 9:21 am

    I remember going to Montezuma Castle many times as a kid (growing up in AZ)! I’d love to go back as an adult + bring my own kids someday! But I’m with you, definitely don’t plan an AZ trip for July!!

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:40 am

      I love showing things from my pre-kids days to my kids. July was very miserable though.

  • Reply Cynthia Mackintosh February 15, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I love how you explain the history behind this monument. We love to visit national parks and monuments on road trips. We will definitely have to put this on our list when and if we visit Arizona again.

    • Reply ppadmin February 17, 2020 at 11:35 am

      There is a lot to learn from our National Parks and Monuments. I hope you will be able to visit.

    Leave a Reply