Sunday, October 3, 2010

Northern Arizona Road Trip - Post 2

This post relates to our second day in the Sedona area. We spent a good part of the day driving the Oak Creek Canyon Loop with a detour to some ancient Indian cliff dwellings called "Montezuma Castle."  Feel free to enlarge any of these photos to enhance the view.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

The Sinagua (without water) Indians began building and living in these cliff dwellings about 900 years ago.  The lowermost part of the dwelling sits about 100 feet off the valley floor.  Early settlers in the area were amazed by the structures and assumed it was Aztec. They were wrong of course, but the name stuck.  The dwelling in the photo is 5-stories and has about 20 rooms.  The people living in it scaled the cliff with ladders that could be removed for protection. There is a very nice stream flowing in the valley.  My wife and I were both shocked when we turned a corner on the trail and spotted the "castle." Photographs don't do this place justice. It was amazing.

Here's a closer view of the "castle."  At one time they allowed tourists to climb ladders and actually go inside of the dwelling.  A new highway brought too many people, so the practice was stopped.

Some of the other portions have deteriorated due to the nesting of carpenter bees over the centuries. 

After we left the ruins we headed into Oak Creek Canyon. We had wonderful views like this one and two below.

The road down into the canyon proper, has many hairpin turns

and a very steep drop off.

We must have driven over this bridge 10 times before we got this view of it. I wonder when this rust bucket is going to collapse?

This trail led from the mesa down into the canyon. We walked down the trail a bit and saw

this view.

A better view of the bridge and the start of the trail.

If you finish the trail (we didn't), a cool dip in Oak Creek awaits.  I had no problem climbing down the trail, but NO WAY was I going to climb back up. My wife wouldn't agree to carry me, so we didn't even come close to finishing our trek. I guess she's just not a team player...



  1. These are great pic, Patrick! It makes me miss Sedona so much. I want to go digging through my own pictures and memories now. Thanks for the share!

  2. We took the monkeys to montezuma castle not this summer but the last- what a great place-we were there when the heat was killer but still fun- I want to go back to Sedona- without monkeys! Such a beautiful place-
    Great photos and it looks like you had a great trip!

  3. That cave castle is so cool and I do think that bridge looks much safer from above than below!

  4. That castle looks amazing! I think I might have rolled down the hill and asked the people in the water to push me up.

  5. Yeah.. i got to take a field trip this Sunday morning.. this is such a beautiful place.. and tell your wife, ha, i don't blame her....Thank you so much for sharing your trips with us house-bound folkjs..:-)

  6. Gorgeous views. I'm with the wife...not carrying nobody! (that's hillbilly talk for: walk, or lie there until you grow moss on your north side.)

    Looks like it's still summer weather in the Arizona. Cold and rainy here in southern Ontario.

  7. Micael - thanks so much! I miss it already. Never seen so much red dirt in my life. That's one of the things I like about other people's blogs. Sometimes their posts activate my memory banks...

    Ren - It can get a bit hot. I think next time, I want to go back during winter. I'd love to see those rock formations with a dusting of snow on them.

    Brian - Had I seen the underside of the bridge first, I might have found an alternate route thereafter.

    baygirl - It was amazing! I hadn't thought about rolling... Maybe too many rocks for that!

    Lynne - It's my pleasure! I'm somewhat of a homebody myself, but I'm always glad when I go someplace. Happy to be of service! Thanks...

    Rosemary - thanks! When we were driving home through the Palm Springs area it was 95 degrees and raining...(you live in Canada, so you know about Palm Springs, right?)

  8. Pat, those are some great shots. Looks like it was a relaxing trip that probably ended too soon. That castle in the side of the cliff looks awesome. Kind of makes me want to take a trip tomorrow.

  9. "team player" hahahaha! I wouldn't climb down either. Actually, I could climb up but not down with my soon-to-be-replaced left knee. ugh.

    My father took us to Oak Creek Cyn first time when I was 9. We were on our way to or back from the Grand Canyon. I never forgot either. Visited Sedona and Oak Creek again about 14 yrs ago and met up w/ friends from Tucson. Had a blast.

    I have heard you now have to be careful not to leave things in your car in the group parking lots; that there's a lot of breaking into cars and thievery. Right out in front of God and everyone.

    Where did you stay?

  10. Very cool pictures, the dwellings are something I would love to see, I thought the bridge was pretty cool too.

  11. There's some amazing cliff-dweller sites in both Arizona and New Mexico.
    Great photos, Pat!

  12. Chuck - We squeezed so much into 8 days that I was actually ready to go home. We have a couple more short trips coming up I think...
    thanks chuck!

    California Girl - We went to the GC on this trip also. Another amazing place. We didn't hear about, or witness any problems with car breakins at all (I'm happy to say). We stayed at a place called Sedona Summit. Thanks!

    Jimmy - thanks Jimmy! Lots to see and lots to photograph. It's a great place. I waved as I passed by your neck of the woods while on our way.

    Alex - I heard that New Mexico has some of the best ones. Someday, maybe I can make out there again. thanks Alex!

  13. More great pics...fascinating places!

  14. That castle looks cool and sounds fascinating. And that last shot down is amazing.

  15. I've seen that, it's amazing! I love the pics you took.


  16. Love your pictures! Sorry it was sooo darned hot here for your trip! There are a lot of gorgeous places here to visit.

  17. Nat - Thanks! Too many places, not enought time...

    Tim - It was pretty cool. We saw one guy humping a 12-pack down the trail and nothing else. warm beer!

    Clarissa - Thanks clarissa! It is an amazing place.

    Jenny - Thanks! It wasn't too bad in Sedona. We heard on the news that Phoenix had their 165th day this year with temps over 100. You are right AZ is beautiful. My grandma was a true desert rat, so when I was young I spent much time in the southern half of the state.

  18. The view is really magnificent.

    Thank you.

  19. Great post. I don't have many visuals of when I was there as a young teenager, but I remember we could go inside the rooms. Nobody else was there when we visited Montezuma. Also I remember there was a natural waterslide in Oak Creek. I have no recollection of the steep hike down or back, but I wouldn't have thought much about it back then. I like the Team Player bit :)

  20. Stunning photos Pat! I am not sure if you are still on your trip but if you are keep on snapping away! I also want to thank you for posting such encouraging comments on Katie's blog! It means a lot...especially from you.

  21. A great place to visit and walk.
    Have a great week Patrick.

  22. Great Captures!
    That is one incredible castle....sure wish I had a ladder outside my door I could bring up when I didn't want to be "bothered"!
    I'm with your wife on not bringing you back up....:)

  23. Welcome back!! Next time, do you think I could stow away in your suitcase? Heck, I'd even CARRY your suitcase!

  24. What an utterly stunning place to visit - I am so jealous!

  25. Amazing place! Thanks for sharing those photos.
    I wish I were there right now!

    Have a great week ahead!


  26. ruma - It is a beautiful place!

    tapirgal - There is another one you can still go into, but not this one. The waterslide is still there, but you don't have to hike too far. thanks!

    DrSoosie - Thanks so much my friend! I am home safe and sound. My pleasure about the posts...

    Costas - It is a beautiful place.

    Dawn - Thanks! I would also like to be able to lock the world out...

    Marlene - thanks Marlene! That would surprise the customs agent, that's for sure...

    Shrinky - It was indeed! So beautiful...

  27. Betty - thanks Betty I wish I was there right now also...

  28. These photos are great! The castle in the rock looks amazing!

  29. beautiful presentation! nice places and regards

  30. We almost made it to Sedona.
    Unfortunately we got sick and stayed closer to "home" in Tucson.
    Next trip down to AZ we're definitely getting up here.

    Thanks for the share.

  31. Nice! There's a variety of scenics!

  32. How cool would it be to live in those cool caves? I am just guessing, but I bet they don't let you go up there to take pictures...too bad, wouldn't that be positively AWESOME??? Especially for a great photographer like you!
    I love that tree, it looks like someone splattered paint all over it.

  33. DiamondsOnMySoles - Thanks so much! I forgot to mention that they went from floor to floor via ladder also.

    Costea - Thanks! It was beautiful there...

    Nelg - It was amazing! Maybe someday you can go there.

    Nariane - I hope you make it there, it's worthy of it's own trip...

    BlueWave - Thanks! There was much to see.

    Joe - I'm sure back in the day, it was awesome to live in there. It would have been nice to take some closer pics, but no more! It was a strange tree, I saw another one in town also.

  34. The pictures were amazing, especially the ones of the canyon.Nature is a rare beauty with hidden gems if one takes the time out to see and enjoy. Have a nice day.

  35. songsnwords - Thanks so much! You are so right, all we have to do is get out there and look for them...
    thanks for commenting and signing up. I appreciate it...

  36. That castle is spectacular, I can imagine turning a corner and having that sight come into view. It all looks like a great place to explore.

  37. SQ - It was spectacular! you used to be able to explore it totally, but then it got too busy...

  38. I am reading your back posts, backwards, and just now making comments. Wow, what a trip you had, Pat and your pictures are to die for...I hope we can make a similar trip next if you have any suggestions of exactly what places for us not to miss, drop me an email sometime as to what exact route you took. I want to photograph the west and the desert and the mountains so badly!!

  39. Joan - Just let me know when you plan to go so I have some time to do it! Thanks Joan! there is a lot to see out here...


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