Montezuma Well – A Desert Oasis

Montezuma Well-1Rimrock, Arizona.

Last week’s Travel Tuesday, we visited Montezuma’s Castle, a Sinagua rock dwelling. Only about 10 miles (16 km) north east of the Sinagua dwelling known as Montezuma Castle, a large oasis that looks like a crater lake is home to another Sinagua pueblo. Like the misnamed “castle”, the Montezuma Well has nothing to do with Montezuma. If you head back to the Interstate (I-17), and head north, the very next exit (293) will lead you to the well. However, we followed a few signs, never got back on the Interstate and ended up on Beaver Creek Road. The well is a short distance east of the town of Rimrock. Interesting that in exploring Google Maps, I cannot find the road we took to get to the well from the Castle. OK, so this trip was two months ago. My memory isn’t what it was. Though I’m pretty sure we didn’t get back on the Interstate, I’m not sure how we got to the well. If you take this trip, just follow the signs. It really was an easy 10 miles.

Montezuma Well-3The large reservoir is fed from an underground source, and according to the National Park Service, A natural flow of 1.5 million gallons (5.7 million litres) of 74-degree water replenishes the aquifer daily. Even the recent droughts have failed to slow the rate of flow. The well is amazingly deep, and according to placards posted around the viewing area, no one has ever seen the bottom. Dive teams have tried.

Montezuma Well-5If you hike down a short, relatively steep trail beside the crater, you’ll find a path leading to a trickling outflow of water from the side of the well. That flow has been routed to a canal, parts of which are over a thousand years old. In the shade of the trees, near Beaver Creek, it is very much cooler, a welcome respite from the hot Arizona desert sun.

Montezuma Well-6Near the outlet, a giant sycamore tree winds up and out from the cover of a rock ledge high above the ground. In the gallery of images below, you will find a couple of images of the dwellings themselves, built high above the top of the well. Click on an image to enlarge it and to scroll through the gallery.

John Steiner



4 thoughts on “Montezuma Well – A Desert Oasis

  1. Cool! If I remember correctly, AZ has a huge aquifer underneath it, at least in the phoenix area. Seems to be no shortage here either! Happy travels!

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