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Montezuma Castle National Monument

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  • 50 miles south of Flagstaff
    Scottsdale, Arizona
J&J Reid
J&J; Reid
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Montezuma Castle (National Monument)

  • May 18, 2006
  • Rated 5 of 5 by candycorey from Heidelberg, Virginia, Germany

Background: Montezuma Castle is the ancient dwelling of the prehistoric Sinagua Indians. This group inhabited the castle and the surrounding land by Beaver Creek over 600 years ago. The National Park Services (NPS) claims it is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America.

Fun Fact:The structure, which is five stories high and consists of 20 rooms, was never actually a castle; it was used more like an apartment building. Also, Montezuma never set foot anywhere near the area.

Why you will want to go see it: This is a great side trip for families! Visiting the Montezuma Castle is a short half hour/hour stop. Visitors enter through the park museum, which displays a timeline of world events and an array of tools used by the Sinagua to build the Castle. World travelers will appreciate the timeline that covers concurrent world events; e.g., while the Sinagua were building this structure, the French were building Notre Dame. The Museum also hosts a small gift shop, where you can pick up postcards and get a stamp for your National Park Passport.

To visit the actual Castle you exit the other side of the small museum and follow a short paved trail. The trail has markers providing detail about the area and the Monument. Halfway down the trail you approach the Castle. It is quite imposing from below.

As you continue around the trail you walk along the Beaver Creek and come past a small Castle replica. The National Park service built a replica with an audio system that tells about the Sinagua who inhabited the structure so many years ago. This is a great stop for kids, as it talks about the Sinagua children and their pastimes.

Logistics:The park is open in the summer (May 30 - Labor Day) from 8am until 6pm and in the winter from 8am until 5pm, 7 days a week. A fee of $5 dollars is charged for admission (16 years and under are free). Before you go, be sure to check the NPS website: The NPS has brochures available that suggest day trips to the area and provide more information on the Castle.

Tip:If you arrive 30 minutes or less prior to closing, the fee is waived and you will have adequate time to see the Castle.

How to find it: Montezuma Castle is located 3 miles off Interstate 17. Use Exit 289 and simply follow the signs!

From journal Weekend Escape to Scottsdale, Arizona & the Sedona

Montezuma's Castle

  • May 9, 2004
  • Rated 5 of 5 by fnwall from Alexandria, Virginia
Montezuma's Castle, one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America, is located about 50 miles from the resort. There are trips offered by the resort, but since we had a rental car and were six people, we drove ourselves. It was worth the trip. The drive through the mountains and the awesome Seguaro National Park, a forest of cacti, is not to be missed. The national park has an entry fee of $3 a person and the whole visit will take about 30 minutes. It's located about two miles off the highway on your way to Sedona. It's well worth the short detour to visit this truly unique spot.

From journal Desert Oasis

Montezuma Castle

  • January 22, 2003
  • Rated 3 of 5 by dalefried from Medford, New York
Montezuma Castle is not a castle. It is a housing labirynth that was built into a mountain by the primitive native people of Arizona. We visited here on the way to Sedona, and the stop was worthwhile. It was very interesting to see how these people adapted and created a society centuries ago. I think we drove about an hour from Scottsdale.

From journal Arid Scottsdale

Montezuma Castle

  • November 1, 2002
  • Rated 3 of 5 by J&J; Reid from Whitby, Ontario
We stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monument on our way to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. It is located just a little off of the I-17 highway, about an hour north of Phoenix. If you are headed in this direction it is worth the stop. It should not take much more then a half hour to view the ruins and continue on your way.

The castle itself is five stories high and is built in the side of a cliff. The Sinagua of the Verde Valley built the 600-year-old structure. The ruins of a second cliff dwelling, simply called Castle A, are also visible but in far worse condition.

From journal A Week at Sheraton's Desert Oasis

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