Monday walk…castle walk

Posted: June 22, 2020 in Monday walk
Tags: , , , , , ,

This may not be what you imagined when I mentioned “castle” in my title. This is a old new world castle, a cliff dwelling built by the Sinagua (without water) people and inhabited from the early 1100s to around 1425. Although it’s called Montezuma Castle, Montezuma was never here. The park isn’t large, but it is lovely and because of the trees, fairly shady, something always appreciated here.

Montezuma Castle was a cliff dwelling housing about 50 people. Residents of the apartment-style structure used long ladders to reach their high-rise homes. ~National Geographic

Until 1951, visitors to Montezuma Castle National Monument also used ladders to access the cliff dwelling. However, thousands of tourists trekking through the site began to wear down the delicate adobe structure. Ladders were removed and visitors can no longer directly access the castle. ~National Geographic

We’re at a higher elevation here than in the Phoenix area and you can tell that we’re also near water because of the trees and vegetation. The park is small but it’s a lovely walk even in the heat. Because it’s a national park, I was looking forward to using my Senior Pass to get us in for free, but because of COVID, there was no entrance fee. Nice of the park system!

In the desert, many plants have thorns or spines, but that doesn’t mean they’re not useful. You just have to be careful when using them! The Indians made use of every part of the plant they could.

The Sinagua—peaceful, pre-Colombian Native Americans—were hunter gatherers and farmers who grew mainly corn, squash and beans. Their exact origin is unclear.

Recovered Sinagua artifacts have shown they were simple people yet gifted craftsmen who used their natural resources to create practical tools and ornamental items. They were also master spinners and weavers who fashioned intricate designs made of cotton they grew themselves.

Many artifacts recovered at Montezuma Castle weren’t native to the area. In fact, the Sinagua were master traders and bartered for items hundreds of miles away. Montezuma Castle was a thriving commercial center and traded a variety of goods and ideas.

You can read more here: History

Some of the other monuments/parks in the area are currently closed, but hopefully I’ll be able to visit them in the not-to-distant future.

For Jo’s Monday Walk

  1. Rupali says:

    Interesting place.

  2. peggyjoan42 says:

    Visited Montezuma’s Castle many times when I lived in Arizona. My parents did not live far from this gorgeous place. Makes we wish I could make a trip to Arizona again.

    • I’m glad you could at least come along with us on our walk, Peggy. It’s a bit of a drive from Gilbert and there was quite a lot of traffic, but I always enjoy visiting there. Montezuma Well was closed, but at least this was open and Sedona was beautiful as always.

      • peggyjoan42 says:

        My parents lived 20 miles from Sedona for 30 years. They are both gone now. Sedona is a gorgeous place. Love to come down Oak Creek Canyon from Flagstaff to Sedona. Montezuma’s Well is a great place to visit. Ah – I sure miss Arizona. Prefer to live out West, but when you marry an Arkie they always come back home when they are 40 or 50. Ha

      • My parents lived in Oak Creek Canyon for some years before moving to Mesa.

      • peggyjoan42 says:

        Loved to stop at Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon and enjoy the water. Such a beautiful place. My folks lived between Camp Verde and Cottonwood. Loved to drive up to Jerome and look down on the valley below.

      • I haven’t been to Jerome since I was a child. I’ll have to put that on my list of places to explore.

  3. macmsue says:

    You certainly have to admire the ingenuity and resilience of those early inhabitants of the region.

  4. Tom says:

    Really interesting, Janet. This is the first time I’ve heard of the Sinagua people.

  5. This stop and the nearby Montezuma’s Well are both interesting explorations. Thanks for sharing your visit.

  6. Sue says:


  7. I love visiting sites like this, but it’s a shame our love does so much damage to them. I wish they’d build some reproductions so people could feel the way it feels inside those adobe structures. Years ago I got to go inside at Mesa Verde National Park, but I think they no longer allow visitors in there, either. I don’t blame them, but I do treasure that childhood memory and glad I had the chance. Thanks for sharing your explorations!

    • We were fortunate enough to visit Mesa Verde when you could still take a tour through the dwelling and I agree that I’m glad I could do it but I understand why they can’t keep letting people in. I like your idea of a full-sized reproduction somewhere. There’s a small, cut-away reproduction of Montezuma Castle in the park with people inside so you can get an idea of how they lived.

  8. de Wets Wild says:

    What a fascinating place, and for free entrance too!

    • Free is always good. 🙂 But I love the senior pass, which give me and anyone in my vehicle free entrance to any of the national parks. It’s not expensive to get and a wonderful deal. Never has to be renewed, either. 🙂

      • de Wets Wild says:

        That’s a well deserved treat for people who supported the national park system all their working lives by diligently paying their taxes!

  9. restlessjo says:

    I’ve seen photos of Montezuma’s Castle before, but I can’t imagine living there. It’s one thing to escape the heat but I think I’d have felt buried alive. Wonderful ingenuity though, Janet! 🙂 🙂 Thanks for sharing, hon. Happy explorations!

  10. A fabulous walk, Janet! Thanks for taking us along!
    You’re right – not what one would think of when you mention “castle” – but nevertheless, a springboard for the imagination of what these cave dwellings must have looked like with occupants in!

  11. I’d stay away from that scratching Bush, although it does sound to be very versatile and useful. What a marvelous place this is. Amazing that people actually used to live up there. They must have been very fit. 😃

  12. lolaWi says:

    a fascinating place! thanks for taking us along!

    • Thanks for coming. 😉

      • Wonderful walk through this historic park. This reminds me of the Acoma Indians of New Mexico who had ladders to climb into their homes from the rooftops for protection from invaders.

      • This is the part of the US for cliff dwellings and hopefully I’ll be visiting more in the next months/years.

      • I’d love to see more pics from when you do go to these places. Arms chair tours by Janet. 👍🏻 😎 I just finished seeing a tour of Italy. It’s great. No exhaustion and the pleasure to view historic places without people. 👍🏻😎

      • One of the positive side effects of the virus. I found one that was a tour of one of the Egyptian tombs and it was absolutely amazing!!!

      • Love it …👌 I saw a documentary on the Ken Burn: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History on PBS – outstanding. I found many, many new thing about their lives interesting.😎

      • I’m not happy with all the pulling down of statues. Move them to a museum or to a private collector, but they’re still part of our history. Some of the people whose statues they’re defacing or pulling down were people who were against slavery and other evils. Also, the biblical admonition of “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” comes to mind. 😦 If only perfect people can be remembered, good luck there!!

      • I’m absoultely in agreemnt with your comment, Janet. Each time I see them spraying grafftti or knocking these statues down my heart aches. Why don’t they see that from this destruction we cannot learn anything except hate? All of us have had bad things happen, even unjust things, but we rise above and try to change the wrongs and, maybe make them better.
        Sadly, I have neighbors who are arming themselves. I’m frigthtened that we are going to have horrible things happen before it gets better. I hope our prayers reach the above and give us the answers. Have a peaceful weekend … Be safe … Be Healthy … Be Happy 😍
        Isadora 😎

      • These are scary times. As I’ve said elsewhere, until people actually sit down with people of other races while finding things they agree on and begin to see each other as people first, we’re not going much of anywhere. That’s the way to stop racism in its tracks.

  13. marianallen says:

    That scratching bush sounds like a handy thing to have around! I wonder if it would keep the raccoons, groundhogs, birds, rabbits, and deer at bay so we could actually enjoy the fruit? Prolly not….

    • Of course the problem then would be how would we get into the garden without scratching ourselves. 🙂 Those animals are all distressingly able to get in, under, and around all sorts of barricades.

  14. Resa says:

    Love this post. The history is fascinating. Thanks for the pics and the catclaw info!
    Imagine not ever having garbage? That there is no such thing.
    Everything is of use.

    • There was garbage, but not as much as we tend to generate these days. It makes me so angry to think about how the buffalo were decimated by men who only wanted to shoot them for sport and then just let them rot. The Plains Indians used every bit of the buffalo/bison.

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