While staying in Camp Verde, Arizona, near to Sedona, we found a few attractions to visit for free (with a National Parks Pass!)
From Camp Verde, Montezuma Castle was a quick and easy drive. A short walkway led to the pueblo cliffside castle, and a Volunteer was available at the base to answer questions and describe the life of the Sinagua people, who lived here for 400 years. Early visitors were able to climb the ladders and view some of the 50 rooms in the dwelling, but presently the castle is only viewed from a distance. It is still a great site to see, and further along the trail there are remnants of other dwellings, as seen below. To see a photograph of Montezuma’s Castle itself, please click on the link above.
About a half hour drive from Montezuma Castle, there is a nice loop trail that leads to Montezuma Well. Over a million gallons of water continues to flow into this well daily, as it did hundreds of years ago, which the Singua used to irrigate their fields in this desert environment. Here there are also remains of cliffside dwellings, and the area is still considered sacred to present day tribes.
Tuzigoot was located about a 35 minute drive north of Camp Verde, and was a more interesting stop for us because we were able to walk among the ruins. This is a large hilltop village in the desert, also built by the Singua people, with 110 rooms, some 2 and 3 stories high, the earliest rooms built about 1000 A.D. The Museum holds many artifacts from the Pueblo Village and volunteers are available to give you a deeper history of what you are observing.
All in all, I would recommend visiting all three of these National Monuments, rich in history and culture. For more information about Camp Verde area attractions, click here.