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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

MONTEZUMA WELL

MONTEZUMA WELL National Monument Roughly 11,000 years ago near the present day town of McGuireville, the earth fell out from under the arid countryside forming a sinkhole where tepid water from subterranean springs collects in a 55-foot deep limestone cavern. Beginning in the 10th century, Sinagua Indians inhabited the area around Montezuma Well, taking advantage of the perennial waters by building canals to nourish their crops. Today, many well-preserved artifacts of this farming culture can be seen in the cliffs, caves and ridges that ring the well site. An easy third-mile trail lined with interpretive signage, takes visitors on a trip through history while the more difficult Well Outlet Trail explores the swallet (an opening through which a stream goes underground) and a prehistoric irrigation ditch along the banks of Beaver Creek.  
HIGHLIGHTS: Easy trail with educational signs, cliff dwelling ruins and lots to explore. LENGTH: third-mile loop  
RATING: Easy. The paved rim trail is stroller and wheelchair friendly. ELEVATION: 3,651’ - 3,681’ DOGS: Park rules require that dogs stay on leash you clean up after your pet and keep him/her off the ruins, on trails and out of the water. Driving distance from Phoenix: 106 miles one-way GETTING THERE: From Phoenix, go north on I-17 to the McGuireville exit #293. Follow the signs for roughly 6 miles to the parking area. Admission is free, however, there’s an entrance fee at sister attraction Montezuma Castle located a few mile south off I-17. INFO: (928) 567-4521 or http://nps.gov/moca
USGS ARTICLE about Montezuma Well: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2011/1063/

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