Montezuma Castle, AZPrint Full | Basic
Description 45 Triplogs 0 Topics
RatedFavorite   Wish List Region
 North Camp
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
Difficulty 0.5    Route Finding
Distance Round Trip 0.33 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,191 feet
Elevation Gain 20 feet
Avg Time Round Trip .5
Kokopelli Seeds 0.43
Interest Ruins & Perennial Creek
Course Lasso-Loop Hike
Author Rob del Desierto
Descriptions 128
Routes 91
Photos 4,912
Trips 890 map ( 1,975 miles )
Age 33
Location Casa Grande, Az.
Rated Viewed All Mine Friends
3  2014-06-22 AZ_Step
5  2013-06-17 SkyIslander15
5  2012-01-15 John9L
11  2011-12-07 Outdoor Lover
9  2011-10-08 CenAZwalker
6  2011-09-18 nahimana222
5  2010-11-14 Patrick L
3  2008-11-10 Patrick L
4  2007-08-25 Randal Schulhaus
7  2007-03-15 bakes_az
4  2006-01-03 gcrough
14  2005-08-15 Randal Schulhaus
Page 1,  2
Trailhead Forecast
Historical Weather
Forest Coconino
NPS Montezuma Castle NM
Backpack - No
Seasons - Autumn to Spring
Alternative Routes
Nearby Hikes Area Water Sources
direct air miles away to trailhead
5.5  Montezuma Well
5.8  Trail #546 - Prescott NF
5.9  Ryal Canyon Trail #521
5.9  Trail #528 - Prescott NF
6.2  Box T Trail #511
6.2  Trail #543 - Prescott NF
[ View More! ]
     Sinagua Dwelling
     Rock Squirrel
     Arizona Sycamore*

Its a castle, but not built by Montezuma
by Rob del Desierto

Cliff Castle Casino, on the Yavapai Apache Reservation in the Verde Valley, gets its name and theme from one place just up the road: Montezuma Castle National Monument. Built by the Sinagua around the turn of the 15th century, and occupied for maybe just a generation, Montezuma Castle remains one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in Arizona.

The trail begins at the Visitor's Center, and heads west, following the cliff face to the north, and Beaver Creek to the south. Beaver Creek would have been a very important source of water for the Sinagua residents of Montezuma Castle and surrounding settlements; in this dry land, Beaver Creek and the nearby Verde River were lifelines in the desert.

As you continue hiking on the paved trail, the cliff to the north expands into a small cove. It is there that you get your first glimpse of Montezuma Castle, high above the valley floor. Up until 1951 visitors were allowed to go up and explore the ruin. Now, due to concerns about vandalism and structural integrity, it is closed to everyone except qualified archaeologists. When you look up at the structure, take note of the different colors of plaster on the front of the building. The darker plaster is new plaster, put on by the Park Service during reconstruction efforts, whereas the lighter plaster is the ancient Sinagua work. Despite the appearance of lots of new work, based on the plaster, 90% of the ruin is original, including lots of original sycamore floor/ceiling beams. The plaster work that the park service has done on the outside is just superficial finishing, to protect the actual stonework underneath.

There are several spots along the trail where you can get good views and photographs of Montezuma Castle. If you continue down the trail, you come across a small spur: Site B. Site B is a valley-floor pueblo that was occupied at the same time as Montezuma Castle. You can walk through a few rooms here, but the rooms are mainly just wall foundations.

The trail then continues on back towards the Visitor's Center by was of the banks of Beaver Creek. Here you can get a good look at the creek that watered the Sinaguans corn, beans, squash, and cotton. There is also a cutaway diorama along this section of the trail that depicts Montezuma Castle as it would have appeared when occupied. Views of the Castle, peeking between sycamore and cottonwoods, are not to be missed by the shutterbug.

The trail then meets back up with the Visitor's Center.

Note that despite passing along the banks of Beaver Creek, there is no readily available water along the trail. Fill your bottles in Camp Verde or at the Visitor's Center.

Dogs: Allowed on the trails, not in the visitor center.


    Directions Preferred Months Mar Apr Sep Oct
    Water / Source:See Description Above
    Preferred StartAny Cell Phone SignalNo Sunrise7:01am Sunset6:21pm
    Road / VehiclePaved - Car Okay
    Fees / Permit

    National Park
    Montezuma Castle - $5.00 each (16 and older) (good for seven days) Fee Information
    Montezuma Well - no fee

    To hike
    Head north on I-17 from Phoenix. Pass the main Camp Verde exit and cross the Verde River. Take the next exit (signed for the Monument and Cliff Castle Casino). Watch out - there are new roundabouts at this exit. Follow the signs to Montezuma Castle National Monument.
    Login for Mapped Driving Directions
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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