Day Trip from Sedona: Earn a Junior Ranger Badge at Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot National Monument

Early on during our Sedona vacation we took a day trip to Montezuma Castle National Monument and Tuzigoot National monument early on; it was a quick, fun and educational afternoon and of course another opportunity for Zac to earn a few more Junior Ranger Badges!

Montezuma Castle National Monument and Tuzigoot National Monument both feature the ancient dwellings of the Sinagua people, Native Americans who lived in Arizona in pre-Columbian times.

Nestled in a sheer limestone cliff about 100 feet above the Verde Valley in Camp Verde, Arizona, Montezuma Castle dwellings were built and used by the Sinagua people between approximately 1100 AD and 1425 AD.

The main structure is five stories and 20 rooms and was build over three centuries.

Nearby Beaver Creak which drains into the Verde River and floods every Summer during  monsoon season, suggests that the Sinagua wanted to avoid flooding by building their dwelling high above in the limestone. The area was perfect for growing corn, beans, squash and cotton.  

If you’re looking for a decent day trip from either Sedona or Phoenix, Montezuma clocks in between 30 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes, respectively.

Shameless Selfie at Montezuma National Monument

Second Day Trip Spot: Visit Tuzigoot National Monument in an Afternoon

Tuzigoot National Monument is all that remains of a Sinaguan village built above the Verde Valley around  1,000 years ago.

Tuzigoot, which an Apache word meaning “crooked water,” is a pueblo in sandstone and limestone aout 120 feet above the Verde River. Visitors are encouraged to walk around and through Tuzigoot and learn more about the life of the Sinagua people and how they lived.

There is an impressive museum at Tuzigoot featuring pottery and jewelry, tools and more at the visitors center and of course Junior Rangers can pick up their activity books and work toward earning a Junior Ranger National Park Badge. 

We decided on this trip that one of our goals would be to try to hit as many National Parks as possible during our travels.  Zac managed to earn his Grand Canyon South Rim Junior Ranger badge on this trip to Arizona as well!

Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle are Family-Friendly Day Trip Options

The 1/3 mile looped trail at Montezuma Castle is paved and easily passable with strollers and was the perfect continuation in little man’s quest to earn all the Junior Ranger National Park Badges.  The trail through the Tuzigoot pueblo and around Tavasci Marsh is also about 1/3-mile in length.

There is a combined entrance fee for both Montezume Caslte and Tuzigoot and they’re within a 30-minute drive of one another and can easily be done within an afternoon, so it’s the perfect family-friendly activity for little ones!

If you’re a homeschooling family or you just like to add an extra educational component to your family vacations, be sure to download the  Tuzigoot and Montezuma Educators Guide. 


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