Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Montezuma Well National Monument Trail

The Montezuma Well Trail is near Camp Verde, Arizona, between Phoenix and Flagstaff features a unique geological site that was also a home to the Sinagua people.

The trail is a 0.5 mile paved loop with two side trails leading to a limestone sinkhole fed by a daily flow of 1.5 million gallons of warm springwater, with pueblo and cave dwellings along the rim.

The mesa top pueblo sites are probably overlooked by visitors hiking to see the unique well. In another setting, these would be interesting sites.

One of the two short side trails descends into the sinkhole to some cave dwellings near the bottom. A unique isolated ecosystem has formed here, featuring shrimplike amphipods and leeches. There are also ducks dabbling on the surface.

The second short side trail descends to a creek where the water from the well drains out. The well drains through an underground channel and feeds an ancient irrigation canal that has been in use for 1000 years.

The Sinagua people have disappeared as a separate tribe. For unknown reasons, the Montezuma well site was abandoned and the people absorbed into other tribes. The other Sinagua sites to see in this area are the Montezuma Castle and the Tuzigoot Pueblo.

Montezuma Castle National Monument Trail

The Montezuma Castle Trail is near Camp Verde, Arizona, between Phoenix and Flagstaff and is near the Montezuma Well site. These sites are accessible along Interstate 17.

The site is along the bank of a creek that provided water and there is room for farming. The site is thought to have been abandoned by the early 1400s. The remains of a second structure, Castle A, are adjacent to the Montezuma Castle.

The trail is a 0.3 mile paved loop along the base of a limestone cliff. In a recess in the cliff, about 100 feet up is the castle. The Sinagua people began building this structure in the 1100s.

Homolovi State Park Ruins Trails

The Homolovi Ruins Trails are along the bank of the Little Colorado River in the grasslands near Winslow, Arizona.

There are two short trails to mostly unexcavated ruins sites that were abandoned around 1400. It is thought that these people moved to join the Hopis on the mesas about 60 miles north.

The Homolovi II trail is paved and features a reconstructed rectangular kiva. Most of the rest of the site are the rubble piles of structures that were originally two or three stories.

The Homolovi I trail leads to a site on the banks of the Little Colorado River. It is thought that a severe flood may have been a factor in abandoning the site.

In the distance the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff are visible. The peaks are the home of the Kachinas, the spirits who bring the rain so that the corn will grow. Corn was the most important crop of these people and still plays an important spiritual role.

At both sites there are small displays of the variety of pottery shards found on the site. There is a third short trail that winds in around a rock outcrop that has some petroglyghs.