Yesterday was a good day. It was Heather’s birthday, so we wanted to be close to a decent restaurant for dinner, which led us to Cottonwood, AZ. Before dinner, though, we wanted to find something fun to do, and since the weather was nice we wanted it to be something outdoors. Tuzigoot National Monument was so close to our campground that if you walked a few hundred feet up a hill from our camper you could see it off in the distance, and Montezuma Castle National Monument was only a 30 minute drive away. These two places seemed like a good way to spend an afternoon.
Montezuma Castle is a five-story cliff dwelling that the Sinagua people built between 1100 and 1300. Unfortunately, visitors haven’t been allowed inside since the 1950s, but there is a really nice walking path that allows multiple views and has lots of interpretive signs telling about the dwelling and the area. In addition to Montezuma Castle, Castle A is also along the walking path, which is not as well preserved but was once an apartment like building with about 45 rooms. Also along the path is a nice diorama that depicts what life might have looked like in the cliff dwelling when it was inhabited, and there is a nice exhibit area inside the visitor center. Montezuma Castle is exceptionally well preserved and gazing up at the cliff-dwelling is an amazing sight. The idea that people actually lived all the way up on the cliff is difficult to wrap your mind around.
Tuzigoot is the remains of a village built between the years 1000 and 1400 at the top of a hill above the Verde Valley. This pueblo is not built into a cliff like Montezuma Castle, but it was much bigger, at 87 rooms just on the ground floor. Interestingly, entrance into most of the rooms was attained with ladders through openings in the roof. It was nice to be able to get up close to this pueblo and not just see it from a distance. The visitor center at Tuzigoot is not to be missed. This center seems more like a museum than just an exhibit area. The amount of authentic artifacts contained in this building is astounding. We probably spent as much time exploring the visitor center and its artifacts as we did exploring the pueblo site itself.
The day was wrapped up at Pizzeria Bocce enjoying some delicious drinks, pizza, and dessert. We prepare most of our own meals in the Bigfoot, so having a night out was a great birthday treat!
Until next time!