Guide to Visiting Montezuma’s Castle in Arizona

During the Covid shutdown, we had to get out of Vegas for a weekend and thought the mountain air in Flagstaff would do us well. Unfortunately, we quickly learned there wasn’t much to do in Flagstaff and started looking for other things to do. We quickly decided to visit Montezuma’s Castle.

We had a really enjoyable time in Montezuma’s Castle. While there isn’t a whole lot to do there, it can be a really enjoyable visit if you know what to expect and have the right attitude. Even our young kids really enjoyed it.

Montezuma’s Castle is a National Monument that consists of a visitor’s center, a paved pathway that takes you to the based of the cliff where the dwellings are built into the cave side, and that is about it.

If you realize there isn’t a whole lot to do there, you can enjoy taking your time and just enjoying such a cool piece of history.

Below we are going to try and answer the questions anyone would have when planning a visit to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. Hopefully it is helpful, but if you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment (or ask on our Facebook Group) and we will try our best to answer!

Where is Montezuma’s Castle?

Montezuma’s Castle is a National Monument in Arizona. It is located just east of the I-17 between Phoenix and Arizona.

How far is Montezuma’s Castle from Phoenix? From Phoenix, just head north on the I-17 and it is about 90 minutes (95 miles) from downtown Phoenix to Montezuma’s Castle.

How far is Montezuma’s Castle from Flagstaff? From Flagstaff, just head south on the I-17 and it is about 50 minutes (55 miles) to Montezuma’s Castle.

How far is Montezuma’s Castle from Sedona? From Sedona, head south on the 179 and then south on the I-17 and it is about 30 minutes (26 miles) to Montezuma’s Castle.

How far is Montezuma’s Castle from Prescott? From Prescott, head east on the 69 and then north on the I-17 and it is about 50 minutes (45 miles) to Montezuma’s Castle.

How Much does it Cost to Enter Montezuma’s Castle?

A seven day pass to Montezuma’s Castle (it also includes entry to Tuzigoot National Monument) is $10.

As a National Monument, you can get free access if you have the Interagency Annual Pass, which at $80 per year is a no-brainer for our family.

You can also get free entrance to Montezuma’s Castle National Monument on the following days:

  • January 20: Martin Luther King Jr Day
  • April 18: First Day of National Park Week
  • August 5: Passage of the Great American Outdoors Act
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday/ Founders Day
  • September 26: National Public Lands Days
  • November 11: Veterans Day

How Long Should You Plan at Montezuma’s Castle?

You should plan on spending about an hour at Montezuma’s Castle National Monument. Obviously, the amount of time you spend there is going to depend on what you like to do.

The hike is very short (addressed below). The Visitor’s Center is small. You could really be in and out in 20 minutes if you wanted, but the setting is really nice if you have time to leisurely walk and spend some time enjoying the view of the Castle.

We probably spent a little over an hour wandering around, reading the signs, findings lots of lizards and a huge millipede, and taking different photographs.

Can you spot the lizard in the image below?

Here are some easier to see lizards.

If you didn’t find the lizard above, can you find the millipede in the shot below?

Here is the giant beast up close.

Can you go Inside Montezuma’s Castle?

Unfortunately, you cannot tour the inside of Montezuma’s Castle. Of Course, it would be crazy to think you could.

It would be quite the adventure to get up into the Castle, but once up there, the amount of traffic that would visit would definitely do some serious harm to the site.

As cool as it would be to tour the inside, it is still pretty fun to just look at it from the cliff bottom.

How Long is the Hike to Montezuma’s Castle?

The hike (if you can call it that) to Montezuma’s Castle from the visitor’s center, which is just off the parking lot, is a short .3 miles.

Is Your Dog Allowed at Montezuma’s Castle?

We don’t have a dog or travel with pets, but we understand there are a lot of people that do. Especially if you are just stopping by on your way to Sedona (people like to take their dogs hiking or swimming in Sedona), then you will be happy to know that you can take your dog to Montezuma’s Castle.

There are a few rules you need to know if you are bringing your dog:

  • Dogs are not allowed in the Visitor’s Center
  • Dogs are restricted to the trails only
  • You must clean up after your dog
  • You are responsible for ensuring your dog doesn’t damage plants or wildlife

Who Built Montezuma’s Castle?

The Sinagua people built Montezuma’s Castle nearly a millennium ago (see below). The Sinagua people were an agricultural society that hard farmlands below the cliff dwellings that thrived with irrigation coming off the nearby Verde River.

How Old is Montezuma’s Castle?

It is estimated the Sinagua people built Montezuma’s Castle between 1100 and 1350 A.D.

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