Tour includes Luxury Transportation to Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well and Tuzigoot National Monuments.
Entry fees are not included. $10 per person.
The historic O.K. Corral has been preserved but is now surrounded by a wall. Mannequins are used to depict the location of the participants as recorded by Wyatt Earp. Visitors may pay to see a reenactment of the gunfight. Until April 2013, the reenactment was performed at 2:00 p.m. each day, but a new version is now performed three times daily at 12:00, 2:00, and 3:30 PM. Fremont Street (modern Arizona Highway 80), where portions of the gunfight took place, is open to the public.
Performance events help preserve the town's Wild West image and expose it to new visitors. Helldorado Days is Tombstone's oldest festival and celebrates the community's wild days of the 1880s. Started in 1929 (coincidentally the year Wyatt Earp died), the festival is held on the third weekend of every October, near the anniversary date of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and consists of gunfight reenactment shows, street entertainment, fashion shows and a family-oriented carnival. Tombstone's Main Event: A Tragedy at the O.K. Corral, a stage play by Stephen Keith, was presented inside the O.K. Corral until 2013. It depicted the Cowboys' version of events in which the Earps shot the Cowboys as they attempted to surrender. The new reenactment, titled simply "The Gunfight", began its run in May 2013. The show runs thirty minutes, three times daily. "The Gunfight", written and directed by Wyatt Earp historian Timothy W. Fattig, portrays the infamous shootout as an inevitable consequence of the protagonists' bravado. Performers from all local stage shows can be seen on and around Allen Street every day
Montezuma Castle is situated about 90 feet (27 m) up a sheer limestone cliff, facing the adjacent Beaver Creek, which drains into the perennial Verde River just north of Camp Verde. It is one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in North America, in part because of its ideal placement in a natural alcove that protects it from exposure to the elements. The precariousness of the dwelling's location and its immense scale - almost 4,000 square feet (370 m2) of floor space across five stories - suggest that the Sinagua were daring builders and skilled engineers. Access into the structure was most likely permitted by a series of portable ladders, which made it difficult for enemy tribes to penetrate the natural defense of the vertical barrier.
Perhaps the main reason the Sinagua chose to build the Castle so far above the ground, however, was to escape the threat of natural disaster in the form of the annual flooding of Beaver Creek. During the summer monsoon season, the creek frequently breached its banks, inundating the floodplain with water. The Sinagua recognized the importance of these floods to their agriculture, but likely also the potential destruction they presented to any structures built in the floodplain. Their solution was to build a permanent structure in the high recess afforded by the limestone cliff.
The walls of Montezuma Castle are excellent examples of early stone-and-mortar masonry, constructed almost entirely from chunks of limestone found at the base of the cliff, as well as mud and/or clay from the creek bottom. The ceilings of the rooms also incorporated sectioned timbers as a kind of roof thatching, obtained primarily from the Arizona sycamore, a large hardwood tree native to the Verde Valley.
Evidence of permanent dwellings like those at Montezuma Castle begins to appear in the archaeological record of Arizona's Verde Valley about 1050 AD, though the first distinctly Sinagua culture may have occupied the region as early as 700 AD. The area was briefly abandoned due to the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano, about 60 miles (97 km) to the north, in the mid-11th century. Though the short-term impact may have been destructive, it is possible that nutrient-rich sediment deposited by the volcano may have aided more expansive agricultural endeavors in the decades following the eruption. During the interim, the Sinagua lived in the surrounding highlands and sustained themselves on small-scale agriculture dependent on rain. After 1125, the Sinagua resettled the Verde Valley, utilizing the reliable watershed of the Verde River alongside irrigation systems left by previous inhabitants, perhaps including Hohokam peoples, to support more widespread farming.
Construction of the Castle itself is thought to have begun around this time, though the building efforts probably occurred gradually, level-by-level, over many generations. The region's population likely peaked around 1300 AD, with the Castle housing between 30 and 50 people in at least 20 separate rooms. A neighboring segment of the same cliff wall suggests the existence of an even larger dwelling (referred to as "Castle A") around the same time, of which only the stone foundations have survived. The discovery of Castle A in 1933 revealed many Sinagua artifacts and greatly increased understanding of their way of life.
The latest estimated date of occupation for any Sinagua site comes from Montezuma Castle, around 1425 AD. After this date, like other contemporaneous cultural groups in the southwestern United States, the Sinagua people appear to have abandoned their permanent settlements and migrated elsewhere. The reasons for abandonment of these sites are unclear, but drought, resource depletion, and clashes with the newly arrived Yavapai people have been suggested. Due to heavy looting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, very few original artifacts survive from Montezuma Castle, though other Sinagua sites have remained more or less intact.
Montezuma Castle, Well and Tuzigoot National Monuments - $549
Tour Time - 8 Hours+ (All-Day)
Montezuma's Castle is the name American explorers gave to this historic site, which was constructed by the southern Sin Agua people about 1,300 years ago (700 AD). It sits in the cliffs near Camp Verde, AZ, overlooking Beaver Creek. They were last occupied in c1125 and discovered by European Americans in 1860
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