Sunday, February 17, 2013

Montezuma's Castle National Monument

It was another cold morning today. I woke up, packed up camp and hit the road headed for Montezuma's Castle National Monument. I arrived at the site just after it opened and used the restroom there to change my clothes and brush my teeth. As I exited the restroom I discovered a tour bus had arrived. Uh oh, I figured I better go check out the site as quickly as possible to beat the hordes of whoever was on that bus.

The castle site is very interesting. It set in a peaceful setting along the Verde River
Verde River photo River_zps5b362d96.jpg
in a copse of sycamore trees. The castle itself is not open to the public. It is a high cliff dwelling that is reputed to one of the best preserved ancient sites in the southwest.
Montezuma's Castle photo CastleandSycamore_zps621609e0.jpg
I walked the trail to great views of the castle and past some other archaeological sites along the river. Besides the interesting antiquities, there were some interesting birds like a ladder-backed woodpecker
Woodpecker photo woodpecker_zpsba8b71ad.jpg
and this bird.
Bird photo bird_zps33cdab02.jpg
Is it an ovenbird? A thrush?

From Montezuma's Castle I drove to the other site included within the national monument, Montezuma's Well. I hadn't heard much about the well, but I actually found it to be more interesting than the castle. When I first arrived I headed to the picnic area where I made a nice hot breakfast of oatmeal and hot cocoa. Th picnic area was very pleasant and a ranger was there giving a bird walk. I didn't join the walk but did see lots of birds around. The only ones I was able to positively identify were a few flickers. Near the picnic ground was an ancient section of irrigation ditch. It appeared to be lined with concrete, but was actually covered with calcite and other minerals that had precipitated out of the water which had once flowed through it.

After my breakfast I headed to the well itself.
Montezuma's Well photo MontezumasWell_zps1dcc1e0e.jpg
The well is actually a collapsed section of sinkhole with ducks and other aquatic birds swimming around in its waters.
Duck photo feedingduck_zpsec97b55d.jpg
There is a trail that leads to its rim, with spurs that lead to Wet Beaver Creek and some ruins near the well's outlet. The whole place was just really interesting and at first glance it seems like an ingenious place to live. Unfortunately, for those who lived here, the water contains high levels of arsenic. Still, I enjoyed looking at the ruins,
Cliff Dwellings photo CliffDwellings_zpsbd5db776.jpg
Ruins on Well Rim photo ruins2_zps456cefc1.jpg
Wall photo wall_zps094d1102.jpg
Ruins at Well photo ruinsandgraffiti_zpsb8febb97.jpg
Ruins at Well photo moregraffiti_zps5bfe24ba.jpg
the river,
Beaver Creek photo BeaverCreek_zpsb790332f.jpg
and section of irrigation ditch that still carries water.  
Wet Irrigation Ditch photo irrigationditchwithwater_zps6deeb01a.jpg
         

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