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.

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