Sunday, March 1, 2009

Montetezuma National Monument

If you aren't a fan of the National Park Service and National Monuments, you should be!! It is probably the one federal branch that actually delivers! Being Southern Californians, we are familiar with Joshua Tree National Monument, but, as we travel, we are also finding other treasures! Last fall's visit to Bryce Canyon, for example. Or, December 2007's visit to the redwoods in Northern California. Our visit on Saturday to Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well was as interesting and awesome as those.

The above 20 room cliff dwelling was built in the 1100's!! It is 100 feet up! Early settlers thought the Aztecs built it. Ergo, the name Montezuma. But, the builders were an ancient Indian tribe that lived in the Verde Valley surrounding Sedona, Flagstaff, etc. They were farmers who depended the nearby Beaver Creek to irrigate their farmland and provide all water needs.

Montezuma Well is amazing! We though a little well. Well, did this well surprise us! It is in the desert surrounded by sand and cacti and it is huge!! A limestone sink that was formed by an underground cavern that caved in, it is feed continously by springs. An on-site placard warned that the water is not conducive to swimming...leeches, little crabs and other nasties! But, it did provide the water necessary for farmers going back to 1100!

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