While continuing our stay at Verde River RV Resort in Camp Verde, Arizona, we made it a point to visit two amazing locations dating back to the 1400s and earlier. Tuzigoot National Monument and Montezuma Castle are both under the National Parks Service, and as luck would have it, we visited on November 11 when all entrance fees were waived. However, for a $10 7-day pass, adults can visit both parks, and children 16 & under are free. You can also use the America The Beautiful Pass at both parks. They are both located west of Sedona, near Cottonwood and Camp Verde.
Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot is what remains of a Southern Sinagua village, and is thought to have been built between 1000 and 1400. Built about 120 feet above the Verde Valley, the village, or original pueblo, was two stories high in some places, and believed to have 87 ground-floor rooms. Ladders were used to move from floor to floor. For more information about this amazing structure and the people who lived there for hundreds of centuries, click here.
To be honest, we had no idea what this was. We were expecting to see a large castle in the middle of the Verde Valley. And in a way, we were correct. However, the castle was built inside the mountain! Early American settlers were amazed when they came across this structure. They thought the Aztecs in the region had built it, so they named it Montezuma Castle. But in reality, the Southern Sinagua farmers built it around 1100-1300.
As you’ll see from the slide presentation, only a small portion of the castle is visible from the outside. However, the Parks Service made a scale model of the inside in the 1950s so visitors could get a feel for what it was like.
Prior to 1951, you could actually go inside and explore the vast 5-story castle. However, as more people came to the area to explore, the Parks Service thought it wise to shut it off to visitors to preserve the decaying structure. To learn more about Montezuma Castle, click here.
Today, both locations have many visitors and present educational programs teaching about the ancient farmers of the Verde Valley.
We were so fortunate to be able to visit these amazing locations that show just how long people have inhabited our wonderful country.
Jennifer Skinnell is the author of the Hope Springs Romance Series available on Amazon. Click here for all the details.