The Montezuma Castle has a myriad of ancient dwellings that have excited tourists and explorers since it was first discovered. The ancient houses are located in the north portion of Arizona and is considered one of the state's best national monuments. The antique dwellings are built into the recesses of a limestone cliff that is situated seventy feet above ground. The ruins were named after the Aztecs that archeologists and anthropologists assumed lived in the ruins. Montezuma Castle was declared by President Theodore Roosevelt as being a place of great historic and cultural significance and he established the area as one of the nation's first monuments.
Although archeologists initially thought the Aztecs had made the Montezuma Castle their home, it was later discovered that the Sinagua Indian people had actually used the land to meet both their housing and agricultural needs. One of the most interesting aspects of the Montezuma Castle National Monument is the Montezuma Well. There is no admission fee to see the well, and it is well maintained by underground springs. The well is a worthy stop that passes a picnic area and some of the ruins of a hohokam pit house. The well is located about eleven miles from the Montezuma Castle and does not take long to explore. The ancient peoples that once lived in the monument used the well and river access for fresh drinking water and the ability to water their crops. A thousand year old ditch for irrigation is located near the well and is still being used even today. The Montezuma Well provides a constant supply of warm, fresh water and is one of the last pieces of pure water that can be found in the nation.
At one point, the National Park Service close the Montezuma Castle because the public was damaging the structure. In order to preserve the integrity of the structure the monument was shut down. Today, visitors are allowed to go into the monument but are not allowed to enter the ruin. Only park personnel are allowed to enter the Montezuma Castle but a virtual tour is available for visitors who want a clear look inside one of the most famous monuments in the United States. The National Park Service allowed the last tourists to journey through the Montezuma Castle more than fifty years ago. The earliest visitors to access the old castle did so by climbing up one of numerous ladders that were propped against the cliff dwellings.
Visitors are charged a small fee of $5 per adult in order to enter the main site. Upon arrival to the site, visitors are encouraged to take precautionary measures that includes wearing appropriate shoes, clothing, and bringing water to accommodate the desert conditions. The climate at the monument gets less than 12 inches of rain per year and is extremely arid. It is estimated that 350,000 people come to the Montezuma Castle every year to learn the history of the monument. The Montezuma Castle National Monument teaches the public about the legacy of the Sinagua people, and how life was lived in ancient times.