Montezuma’s Well

Almost all of our tours are done. We have 1 more this after noon at 5pm, a sunset ride but for the most part our time is our own from this point on. So with the day open we decided to explore Montezuma’s Well.

I wasn’t at all sure what to expect. I just knew that I didn’t get a chance to go there on my last visit to Arizona and Sandy is very interested in Native American Culture so an ancient ruin seemed like a good way to spend some time.

Montezuma’s Well is easy to find. It’s clearly marked with large signs right off interstate 17. There are restrooms and a small ranger station next to the parking lot. The ranger was GREAT!. He was so out-going and friendly. He gave us lots of advice about what to look for on our walk. He obviously enjoys his job and is very good at it.

The trail to the “well” is paved and slopes slightly upward. The ranger told us to “drink plenty of water” ,the mantra of the desert , but even with the sun the walk wasn’t uncomfortable.

At the top the trail winds around a large pond of water. According to the literature it is the remains of a large limestone sinkhole. I expected a little stone well not this big hole filled with water! The sides are very steep and deep. Cave dwellings were visible in the walls of the well.

The water is warm but not from being in the desert. Apparently, what ever the source, the spring flows at a steady 76 degrees all year ’round. More than a million gallons of water a day flows continuously through this huge bowl in the desert floor creating a green oasis in the scrubby desert grassland.

A series of stone steps leads down to the water’s edge. The ranger said there were 100 steps. I didn’t count them but if it was 100 it was the easiest 100 I have ever walked.

 At the bottom the path winds through tall grasses and wildflowers until you enter a tree-shaded glen with the water on the left and a stone and cave style dwelling to your right. It was cool and hard to believe I was in a desert.

Sandy had opted to wait on top. While she was  waiting for me to take my little side trip she met some visitors from England that were bird watching. They were lucky enough to spot the Great Horned Owl that makes its home in the cliffs of the well. I, unfortunately, missed that. Still I am glad I explored the bottom.

Back on top and caught up with my sister we found the 2nd trail that the ranger had mentioned. I was able to convince Sandy to try this one. It was slightly steeper and narrower than the “100 step trail” but it was shorter. Only a couple of “landings” down and we turned a corner into a gorgeous glade.

 Huge Arizona Sycamores towered above us, water crest grew green in the stream along the base of the cliff and the water bubbles and gurgles where the well water empties into Beaver Creek. The foliage was so thick it gave a green cast to the light. It was just absolutely gorgeous, just as the ranger had said it would be. It was lovely and peaceful with the water gurgling close by. A perfect place to meditate or spend a day with a book. Still we couldn’t linger too long. there was  so much more that we wanted to see before our trip came to an end.

Back on top in the desert sun, we followed the trail back toward the parking lot.

 We hadn’t seen too much wildlife yet so when I saw one of the little lizards or geckos that seem to be everywhere I took a picture. It may not be much but it’s still wildlife. 🙂

One last note about Montezuma’s Well is that Montezuma was Aztec and the Aztec were never in Arizona. Apparently the early settlers to the area made the assumption that it was Montezuma’s doing and the name stuck. In fact the dwellings had been deserted for over 100 years before Montezuma was even born!

Well with that tidbit of information under our belts it was time to head over to the other misnamed site, Montezuma’s Castle.

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