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Montezuma Castle

Camp Verde, Arizona: There was no stopping to stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona. Did not view the mile-wide crater caused by a meteor 50,000 years ago. Did not stop to see the cliff-side dwellings in Walnut Canyon where natives resided 1200 years ago. Nope. Been there. Done that. A few times. Our RV continued west on I-40, where she took a left at Flagstaff, to follow I-17 south towards Phoenix.

I-17 is in such disrepair, I had to put on a sports bra, and clench my teeth so they wouldn’t rattle out of my mouth! There were three sections on the south-bound lanes where re-paving was happening, so the road was restricted to one lane for long stretches. The right side of the lanes were framed with concrete French barriers, and the lane was about one-inch wider than our motorhome. So scary!

Enough was enough. We pulled over just south of Sedona and are going to rest for a few days in Camp Verde at Distant Drums RV Resort, on the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

After setting-up camp in a very long, but very narrow campsite (no idea how we are going to exit this skinny tree-lined site, so we may be living here forever), we drove a few miles to Montezuma Castle National Monument.

This amazing cliff dwelling was built and occupied at the same time Notre Dame was being built in Paris (1200-ish). The Sinagua tribe occupied the area for centuries, and lived in caves carved into the limestone walls overlooking the river below. The area provided fish, flat land, and water for growing crops (corn, beans, squash), plus protection from others. The tribe lived here until the 1400s, when all the tribes in the area eventually left for northern or western areas (reasons still unknown, as the river was still flowing at the time).

The ruins were “discovered” in the 1800’s, and idiotically named Montezuma because the European/Spanish explorers thought the abandoned ruins were part of the Aztec people. The name exists to this day. (Why?)

Tourists enter through the Visitor Center and proceed to the 1/3-mile paved loop path to see the castle. Markers throughout the walk explain the time-frame, lifestyle, flora and fauna of the tribe living here.

When you finally see the “castle” your breath is taken away.

Montezuma Castle - about 35 people lived here
Montezuma Castle

Back in the day, tourists could climb ladders to see inside the castle, but that was abandoned in the 1950s, due to looting and too much traffic in the delicate caves. Now, tourists are kept far away from the several cave sites, but can still marvel at the life that must have been.

This is a quick stop off I-17, and a wonderment for all visitors. Kids would love it. Wheel-chair-friendly. Lots of benches for viewing the ruins. Free parking. Bathrooms. Ranger-led talks all day. Our old-dude parks pass admitted us free.

Prickly Pear in bloom!

After our visit to the castle, We had to stop to Walgreens for more bandaging supplies. (Wound still looking super-good and noticeably smaller - yet still frigging massive.)

There was Monday Night Football on TV tonight. Do not ask me a score or a team, but in between games/half-times a lovely meat-free (FINALLY) meal was prepared and served.

Caprese Salad
Dave’s favorite dinner: Aglio a olio

I use dried Chile flakes and Parmesan, plus pasta cooking water to bind the spaghetti and everything together. Chopped parsley garnish.

No idea what we will do tomorrow- except NOT drive our bus - I remain your Montezuma correspondent.

4 thoughts

  1. I always am afraid the upper cabinets are going to fall on me on those bad highways!
    If you connect to the 303 loop west of Phoenix you’ll find a nice smooth bypass that connects to the I 10 west to California. When you pass Grand Avenue exit on the 303 you’re just a mile from our house!
    You might enjoy a day trip to Prescott, another fun touristy town Of course Sedona is popular with the tourists but we’ve heard it’s even hard to find a parking spot there
    We’ll be back in AZ Oct 1 so will miss seeing you
    BTW did you the Stanford game is an 8 pm game? Ugh 😩

  2. We enjoyed Distant Drums a few years ago when we first started our RV journeys. Our son now lives in Prescott, we have visited and love their downtown. Would be a fun day trip!

  3. About 1/2 hour up the road is Tuzigoot National Monument and Verde Canyon Railroad, in Clarkdale, AZ. Interesting history about copper mining in the area as well (if you didn’t already know). 🙂
    Or up the mountain to Jerome, AZ (“ghost” town)

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