Montezuma Castle and Well…

Near Cottonwood, AZ is another National Monument that we visited in addition to Tuzigoot. I was glad that we went to Tuzigoot first, because while it was interesting in it’s own way, Montezuma Castle and Well are much more grand, and TNM would have been quite a let down had we done it the day after instead of before. Tuzigoot was neat in that you could go right up to, and in some cases into the ruins, while Montezuma was more of a spectator visit.
OF COURSE we had to do the Jr. Ranger program…
and we actually got our J.R. booklets from the same super nice ranger lady that had given them to us the day before atTuzigoot! The rangers here rotate between the 3 sites (the castle and the well are at separate locations).

After doing a few of the activities in their books, it was time to walk out to the ‘castle’…

Molly sometimes rides in the backpack, sometimes walks – usually changes every 30 seconds depending on how accommodating her dad is :)

She loves to get out and run, and since the ‘castle’ was out of reach, we let her…

We took a breather in front of the cliff dwellings so the kids could work on the parts of their ranger program that had to be done there.

Eli still enjoys doing the programs, Beth doesn’t, and Jake has decided that he is too old to do them – so Jake and I have a deal; he doesn’t have to do them, but he has to read, in full, Every Single plaque in the park(s). That can be a tall order, but here there weren’t very many so he was off the hook. (tho he was the official photographer here too)
The scenery was beautiful…

Montezuma Castle is quite spectacular…

and I can see how the park system couldn’t allow visitors to go up to the dwellings, but it would have been so neat to see the inside of this cliff dwelling!

The park was full of these neat trees – Arizona Sycamore…

…much more colorful in person, the trunk is white with splotches of peach, grey, and moss.
I enjoy my big kids so much. They all get along great (which is really nice since Eli and Jake used to be my 2 that would bicker) – and they have a lot of fun together.

There is a cut-out diagram of the castle that is accompanied by a narrative about the structure.
After our visit to Montezuma Castle, we took our still not completed Jr. Ranger booklets and drove down the road (about 10 miles), to Montezuma Well…
There are steps leading down to the bottom of the ‘valley'; they are rock without railing, but not scary.
This natural basin, formed by the collapse of limestone long ago, acts as a huge well shaft to collect the over 1 million gallons of warm water that rise to the surface over the course of a single day.
Of course, since we are in the desert, this was a highly used water source for the Sinagua people who lived in the area.The water flows from the basin out a short underground shaft to a small river a short walk away.
Such a beautiful area, while one may be tempted to skip the staircase that leads downward to the river, thinking that the outlet of the underground cavern really isn’t worth seeing, it is actually the ‘best seat in the house’ -that’s what the rangers call it. Apparently a lot of people skip it, but I would skip the well before I would skip visiting the outlet next time we visit.
It was a chilly day, but we enjoyed our walk around the park very much.

This was such a beautiful area – it reminded us so much of a creek back home…(nice picture Peanut!) Molly didn’t make it into the picture because she was too busy fussing and hanging on my jacket thanks to no nap – I should have taken a picture (sorry Elise!) :)
We loved the rangers at both of the parks – Ranger Rex, at the well, took quite an interest in the kids, and I think that he was disappointed that not all the kids had their booklets done by the end of the walk so he could swear them in and hand out their badges. He chased us down on our way out of the parking lot, and gave the kids some neat little park pins anyway(which the kids thought neater that the badges!?!?). The kids finished their books the next day, but I drove right past the park on our way south later in the week (oops!) – here’s to hoping that we can mail them back and the NPS will mail them their badges…
We had such a lovely visit, and would enjoy going back again on a little bit warmer day.
~(all this traveling has me a bit spoiled – we are currently further south, and when I went to the grocery store tonight (with a 9 sq ft fridge I do that a lot) – forgot a jacket and the thermometer on the van said it was 60 degrees out. I was freezing. :(

Lilla Rose

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