Continuing my day of National Monument exploration, after checking out Montezuma Well and V Bar V (If you missed it, find the blog post here), my friends and tour guides extraordinaire Hans and Lisa headed south to Montezuma Castle National Monument.
|What's in the cliff?|
By now it was late morning, and although we'd had the first two places nearly to ourselves, clearly the rest of the world had caught up. This place was swarming with people! Luckily, Hans snagged one of the last spots in the parking lot.
|Montezuma Castle NM|
This National Monument was very well developed, boasting a large visitor center, gift shop and modern rest room. Paved walkways led people along the base of a tall limestone cliff. I could see an alcove hollowed into the rock about halfway up. Upon closer inspection, imagine my surprise to discover a large pueblo dwelling perched inside.
|More lovely sycamore trees|
Park literature explained this five-story, 20-room structure was built by Southern Sinagua farmers sometime between 1100 and 1300 AD. The pueblo was constructed into a cliff recess 100 feet above the valley floor. Gazing up at the ruins, it was hard to imagine how it's occupants were able to scale the steep rock to gain access. But this lofty location likely provided protection from flooding and enemies.
|Wet Beaver Creek|
According to the National Monument's website, this is one of the best preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings in North America. Early visitors were allowed access to the dwellings by climbing several ladders. However, the large number of people traipsing through these ruins led to extensive damage, and the area was finally closed to the public in 1951.
|How did people get up there?|
What an impressive cliff dwelling! Even without access, I thought the viewing area was well done. So glad this ancient structure has been preserved for generations to come.
After refueling on Mexican food in the nearby town of Cottonwood, my friends and I were ready to tour our final set of ancient ruins. A very short drive outside the city limits brought us to Tuzigoot National Monument.
|Huge pueblo structure!|
At this National Monument, not only was the visitor center full of preserved artifacts from nearby dwelling sites, on top of a hill sat a huge rock pueblo structure. Best of all, people were allowed access inside.
|Visitors were allowed inside|
These pueblo ruins were built on top of a long ridge, rising 120 feet above the valley floor. Again, the Southern Sinagua were responsible for construction of this large dwelling place, an impressive two-story, 87-room structure. Very few exterior doors were provided - inhabitants accessed their homes via ladders through roof openings.
The story behind the Tuzigoot ruins is that they were entirely covered by rock and soil. In 1933, scientists from the University of Arizona directed excavation of the hill, aided by WPA workers. (I'm not sure how or if the scientists knew there was something underneath the hill, but obviously they hit pay dirt.)
After two years, the entire structure was uncovered, and after an additional year, it was ready to be opened to the public.
|Fantastic views from the top|
I liked this Monument because visitors were allowed access into one of the pueblo's rooms. A set of modern stairs led my friends and I into a second-story room, and another narrow ladder brought us to the rooftop. Oh what fantastic views we had from here! The entire valley spread out in all directions, blue skies and puffy clouds. Looking down the ruins provided an interesting perspective of it's terraced rock walls.
|Wide open skies|
It was hard to imagine 50 people crammed into this small space. But that's how these ancient farmers existed. Walking through the stone-walled rooms really brought the Sinagua culture to life.
|Historic mining town of Jerome|
The final stop on our busy tour day was a fun one. Hans and Lisa wanted to show me the historic mining town of Jerome. And, since it happened to be St. Patricks Day, they also planned to visit one of their favorite taverns (live music and local brews, I was totally in!)
|The Spirit Room entrance|
Jerome was literally built into the side of a cliff. Access is via a steep, winding highway that switchbacks up the mountainside. Incorporated in the 1870s, nearby copper mines fueled it's growth.
|St Patricks Day festivities|
Although the mines have long been closed, Jerome has managed to preserve much of its historic heritage. Nowadays, visitors flock to this funky town for its art galleries, craft stores, wineries, and restaurants.
|Lisa and I enjoy a brew|
After touring several unique gift shops (there was one store that specialized in kaleidoscopes! Very cool!) Lisa and Hans led me to the Spirit Room, their favorite local watering hole. It was packed with green-clad revelers who appeared to be well fueled on beer - green or otherwise.
|Lots of stairs in this town!|
The music was great, and I kept entertained by the antics on the dance floor. We all sampled different local brews - mine was called "kilt lifter" (with a name like that how could I not try it?)
It was a lovely blue-sky day, so after finishing our drinks, Hans and Lisa gave me a walking tour of Jerome.
|Bumper sticker collection|
It was full of quirky sights - like this hippie van covered in bumper stickers.
|Lots of old buildings|
Lots of old buildings that looked ready to slide down the hillside. Yet, they appeared to be occupied.
|Jerome Grand Hotel|
We trekked up a steep road to the Jerome Grand Hotel. Once a hospital, this historic building was converted into a plush hotel in the late 1990s.
The old surgeon's house now operates as a bed and breakfast. It was a beautiful building with a lush, inviting garden outside.
|Not a bad view in the entire place|
Best of all, Jerome boasts fabulous views from everywhere in town! At 5000 feet elevation, it's definitely one of the highest points around.
|My elevation sign models :)|
What a fun day - kudos to my tour guides for showing me the highlights of the Verde Valley!
Time for another hike tomorrow.....