online book
book cover
Cover Page





Aztec Ruins

Capulin Mountain

Casa Grande

Chaco Canyon


Craters of the Moon

Devils Tower


El Morro

Fossil Cycad

George Washington Birthplace

Glacier Bay

Gran Quivira



Lewis and Clark Cavern

Montezuma Castle

Muir Woods

Natural Bridges


Petrified Forest


Pipe Spring

Rainbow Bridge

Scotts Bluff

Shoshone Cavern





Yucca House

Glimpses of Our
National Monuments


Montezuma Castle
Montezuma Castle.
Photo by Grant.

Situated in a cavity in the face of a vertical cliff about 80 feet above its base, Montezuma Castle, in Arizona, is a true cliff dwelling. The building is about 40 feet from bottom to top and is overhung by at least 30 feet of cliff, which has kept the ruin in a good state of preservation.

It needs no great stretch of imagination when one is on the ground to picture a day many centuries ago when some patriarch led his clan up or down the stream, now called Beaver Creek, and rounding a great bend saw this cliff with its deep recesses as if prepared by nature for housing his people in safety. Thus it was that the clan must have halted here, built in the cliff and cultivated the land formed by the bend in the stream and lived for many generations. But these ruins were abandoned many years ago, for the Apache Indians, who occupied the valley on the advent of the white man, have no tradition concerning its origin.

The castle itself was not all erected at one time, but shows at least three stages of building. Neither was it built under the direction of one manager or foreman, for various methods were used in the construction of the different rooms. It was in all probability a communal house, and each family or unit, in erecting its room or rooms, used its own methods applied with its best skill and judgment. There is a very wide difference in the plastering of various rooms, ceiling construction, and wall and door construction. In those days each man was his own builder, plasterer, roofer, and interior decorator.

Near the castle are many smaller structures of from one to four or five rooms and 200 or 300 persons may have had their homes in this section. They used pottery of a fair quality, some of it decorated in 2-color work with symmetrical designs. They raised corn and were in a fairly advanced stage of the Stone Age and depended for their living on agriculture and partly on hunting. They had enemies who strove to steal their crops and to kill them, and it is entirely probable that these enemies finally overcame them to a point where they became discouraged and moved on to other places, where they would not be harassed.

On December 8, 1906, about 160 acres of ground containing the Montezuma Castle, were set aside as the Montezuma Castle National Monument. The monument is about 3 miles east of Camp Verde in the northeastern part of Yavapai County, Ariz. It can be reached from Flagstaff, Ariz., on the Santa Fe Railroad and National Old Trails Road by way of the Mormon Lake Road, a run of about 80 miles through a highly scenic section. It is also reached from Prescott on the Santa Fe System and State highway between Ashfork and Phoenix. From Prescott one can go to the monument via the Jerome-Prescott Road, a beautiful scenic ride, and return by the Cherry Creek Road, another beautiful drive. The distance from Prescott is about 54 miles. Martin L. Jackson is custodian of the monument and lives close by. Visitors are asked to use great care in climbing the ladders and walking through the ruins, and are warned not to push or lean on the outside walls, as accident and damage might result.


Last Modified: Thurs, Oct 19 2000 10:00:00 pm PDT

ParkNet Home