Saturday, May 30, 2009

South in the Fast Lane

When heading south from Flagstaff the major attractions can be reached via Highway 89A. This congested and narrow two lane highway negotiates steep canyon switchbacks, and the outstanding scenery along the way frequently results in slow moving traffic.

Visitors who wish to skip the often frustrating drive through Oak Creek Canyon can elect to bypass it entirely in favor of the freeway. Highway 89A parallels Interstate 17, and both roads eventually arrive at the same destination. Additionally there is one place worth seeing that can only be accessed off the interstate - Montezuma Castle.

Montezuma Castle and Well

Showcasing one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America, Montezuma Castle is neither a castle nor built by the famed Aztec leader. It is a fine example of how native people lived in this harsh environment using natural features of the landscape to their advantage. Built by the Sinagua, the area encompasses cliff houses and pueblo ruins as well as evidence of irrigation and farming techniques that predate those in use today.

Even though the inhabitants left the area over 600 years ago, you'll still get an appreciation of what life would have been like for those who called this area home.

4 miles down the road from the Castle, you'll find the turnoff (exit 293) for another very interesting and unique natural feature of the landscape, Montezuma Well. The well provides life giving water to a wide variety of flora and fauna, some found nowhere else on Earth. In the surrounding area you'll also see more examples of prehistoric Sinagua dwellings like those pictured here.

No comments:

Post a Comment