Your Guide To Exploring Montezuma Castle National Monument
Situated in Camp Verde, Montezuma Castle is a must-see for central Arizona visitors. Discover this historic Native American dwelling carved out of an ancient limestone cliff.
Established in 1906, Montezuma Castle is the third National Monument dedicated to preserving Native American culture. This 20-room high-rise apartment, nestled into a towering limestone cliff, tells a story of ingenuity, survival and ultimately, prosperity in an unforgiving desert landscape. Here’s how to make the most of your visit to this Verde Valley landmark.
Who built Montezuma Castle?
The castle was created by the ancient Sinagua people, who inhabited this riparian oasis along Beaver Creek for over 400 years. Even hundreds of years after their departure, the legacy of the Sinagua people continues to inspire the imaginations of this and future generations.
Can you go inside Montezuma Castle?
As one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America, Montezuma Castle's interior attracts curiosity. Early visitors to the monument were allowed access to the structure by climbing a series of ladders up the side of the limestone cliffs. However, due to extensive damage to this valuable cultural landmark, public access of the ruins was discontinued in 1951.
What is there to do at Montezuma Castle?
Explore the vast collection of artifacts in the museum and wander the trails throughout the base of towering limestone cliffs, then enjoy lunch in the picnic area along the scenic shore of Beaver Creek. A paved, 1/3-mile loop trail takes you through a tranquil sycamore grove and past the ancient cliff dwellings of a people surprisingly similar to ourselves. The Montezuma Castle hike is accessible to all skill levels and is a great site for nature trips and bird-watching activities.
For even deeper discovery, the park also offers formal ranger programs, which cover a wide range of topics and usually last about 25 minutes.
Once your castle visit is complete, head north 11 miles to explore the Montezuma Well, a sub-unit of Montezuma Castle. The land around Montezuma Well has been home to prehistoric groups of people since as early as 11,000 CE.
The park, visitor center and trails are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. The Montezuma Well picnic area is open from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. The park is closed on Christmas Day and New Years Day, and closes at 2 p.m. for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
Getting to Montezuma Castle
Follow I-17 to exit 289 (90 minutes north of Phoenix, 45 minutes south of Flagstaff). Drive east (through two traffic circles) for approximately 1/2 mile to the blinking red light. Turn left onto Montezuma Castle Road.
For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/moca/index.htm.