Saturday, October 22, 2022

Camp Verde, AZ...Old Favorites and Something New

Distant Drums

Camp Verde, AZ

October 17, 2022 

Monday's (Oct. 17th) trip from Payson to Camp Verde was a nice drive. It was a short day with less than 65 miles most of which was over the mountains on Hwy 260.  I always enjoy travel day and love taking photos of the highways and byways.

We have stayed at Distant Drums many times since out first visit back in April 2014.  Several of those visits were month long visits so we know the area well.  Some old favorites...

Red Rock State Park: 

Tuesday's adventure found us hiking at Red Rock State Park. It's a pretty little park that is well maintained with friendly staff and volunteers.

We managed a 3+ mile hike by combining the Kisva, Coyote Ridge, Eagle's Nest  and Apache Fire for a nice loop and some elevation gain.  The park (286 acres) is part of the lower Oak Creek Important Birding Area and hosts birds in all season.  We didn't see any birds on our hike, but the Hummingbird Garden at the Visitor Center had a variety of hummers, jays, and sparrows.  The park has two distinct wildlife habitats with informative exhibits that tell about the wildlife that lives in each community.  First, the aquatic community. 

And second, the Pinyon-Juniper community. 


There is an open meadow just before the climb up.

P.S. I didn't edit any of these photos...the sky was really that blue!

The views from the ridge made the climb well worth the effort.


After a lazy Wednesday morning, I decided I wanted a T-shirt form Cheers on the north side of town (Hwy 89A).   My sweet husband obliged, so off to Sedona we went.  We know from experience, Sedona is crazy busy in the spring...well, fall is no exception.  It sort of takes the wind out your sails when the only two parking spots you see are time for 15 minutes and the other for 30 minutes.  We zipped in the 30 min spot, rushed across the street to Cheers for a T-shirt and walked in a few more stores.  Most of the folks in town were sitting on one of the many outdoor patios eating so surprisingly, the stores were not so bad.  

Heading home, we stopped at Son-Silver-West Galleries.  It has been a fun and colorful spot to browse for all these years.  It is a unique shop with a bit of everything from outdoor yard art, popcorn seasoning, and souvenirs, to expensive art, pottery, mesquite furniture and handmade rugs.    


Schnebly Hill Road: 

Thursday was the day we chose to do some off-roading.  It has been a long time since Pearl has had an adventure.  Schnebly Hill is an 11.8 mile trail from point to point.  We have done it a couple of times starting from I 17 and driven down the hill so Thursday, we decided to go up.  We passed several Pink Jeeps ( tours ) during the first couple of miles.  They stop at an overlook closer to town, turn around and head back down.  Once past their overlook stop, we pretty much had the rest of the trail to ourselves.  The trail is lumpy and bumpy but easy.  

Thank you Joe !

The views are humongous....

all the way to Scenebly Hill Vista.

Lunch with a view.  You can see the trail we just climbed on the left side of the photo.


The rest of the trail to I 17 is gravel and lined with ponderosa pines.

Seven years ago, there was a lake here.  Poor geese don't have any water !

Montezuma Castle National Monument:

I can't believe we never included Montezuma Castle in any of our other visits to Camp Verde.  This morning (Saturday), we fixed that and made a stop on the way to Basha's Grocery.  Like Tonto NM, Montezuma was also established as a National Monument in 1906. Unlike Tonto, these dwellings were built a couple of hundred years earlier in the 1100s.  

This 20 room "apartment", 5 story dwelling housed 35 to 50 people and was built high up in an alcove on a limestone cliff in Verde Valley.  The walls were made of limestone rocks from the local area and held together with clay.  I found it fascinating that adobe was used to coat and seal the outer walls. 

Large support beams of sycamore wood and cross beams made from dry branches, twigs, grasses and reeds covered with several inches of mud both completed the ceiling and the floor for the next level.  A second dwelling, excavated in 1934 was located "around the corner" from Montezuma Castle.  It had 45-50 rooms and housed about 100 people.  Sadly, it is not so well preserved because a fire around 1400 destroyed most of the interior.  Montezuma Castle is located along Beaver Creek...a reliable source of running water through the canyon.  The Sinagua people who built the dwelling and lived in the valley until the early 1400s, were primarily farmers and relied heavily on corn.   

In the late 1800s, Montezuma Castle became a popular tourist site.  Unfortunately, some saw it as a site to preserve while others saw it as a treasure chest.  Visitors were able to climb a series of three ladders and enter the dwelling until 1951.  That year, both visitor safety and concerns for the structure were addressed and the ladders were removed.  Today, only park rangers and other personnel are allowed to enter the Castle. 

A diorama was created by the national Park Service's Laboratory in Washington, DC to show and interpret what the structure looked like inside.  The day the ladders came down in 1951, the diorama made its debut.  Today, 71 years later, the model still serves its initial purpose and acts as an artifact of the park's history.

The paved walk that loops to the viewing area for the Castle and Beaver Creek is lined with Arizona sycamore trees.  They flourished 63 million years ago when Arizona's climate was cool and moist. 

Today, these magnificent trees can only be found in riparian corridors.  Growing up to 80feet tall, it consistently sheds white, brown and green bark. 

The main beams for the Castle were hoisted 80 feet above the valley floor.  Some were estimated to weigh more than two tons !

A little bit of color along the walk this morning.

I have one more post to write from Camp Verde so stay tuned.

A little hint of what's next after I sort thru a kazillion photos...

Until next time, 



  1. We love Camp Verde! Montezuma's Castle was the first ruin we ever viewed and were wowed! Glad you got out for some jeeping--always fun! Your blue sky/red rock photos are stunning! Those saguaro placemats on that table in the Gallery would have had to come home with me--maybe not when I saw the price tag?? :) :)

    1. Thank you skies and red rocks do compliment each other nicely! Camp Verde is just enough out of the way of the crowds for us and sort of in the middle of any direction we want to go. I have wanted to stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, but sites there are impossible to get even months in advance. I'm not really into planning anymore after 9 years of having to do so. There were lots of placemats all shapes and sizes to pick from. The saguaros caught my eye too. I can't remember the price...a duh moment!

  2. Pearl looks very much at home on Schnebly Hill. Nice escape from the crazy crowds of Sedona. Montezuma Castle is a great place to stretch thanks for all the great info on the Castle. Nearby Montezuma Well offers a short hike.

    1. Good morning Jeff...It was fun being on trail in Pearl. We had lots of smiles and giggles as we bounced along and lots of memories to talk between all the wows!

  3. I always enjoy poking around Sam Silver here in Wickenburg....I just bought a nice little chiminea with a custom made spark arrestor there.
    Thanks for taking me back to that area, Montezuma Castle was the first cliff dwelling we saw when Jesse was a very little boy. Sycamores are my favorite tree, I love that bark - it looks like modern art! Schnebly Hill is, indeed, lumpy bumpy! We thought it would never end and were happy when we got to the smooth Forest Service Roads near Flag!

    1. Hi awesome to have your very own Sam Silver close by. I don't dare pick out anything big we would have trouble carrying in the MH. I love that you and Janna both said Montezuma Castle was your first cliff dwelling visit and that it brings back fond memories for you. I was very saddened that stupid folks had carved graffiti in the sycamore bark. It was hard to find even a small spot to photograph. I love the bark too!

  4. It's been a few years since we visited Montezuma Castle, but we always find it so fascinating. I bet it felt good to get out on the trails in the Jeep!

    1. Hi Jim…yes it was fun to be on trail in Pearl. The views on the hill are so pretty. After having gone both ways, I like going down better (starting at the interstate and ending in town) to see the views out the front window…and lunch in town is also a treat at the end. Shame on us for not visiting Montezuma sooner!

  5. Fun to see Pearl back out on the trail! Such a stunning area, and getting away from the crowds to enjoy it is a real gift - thanks for sharing :-) Isn't the Castle incredible? I was so impressed with the details and your pics really capture it at its best. We have a small Sycamore in our back yard that looks really out of place for the area. Fun to know it has some history here!!

    1. Good morning Jodee and thank you. Lucky you to have a beautiful sycamore tree. Schnebly Hill was a hoot on such a gorgeous day.

  6. The total package...hiking, jeeping, and touristing...perfect! We had fun exploring Monezuma Castle area, as well. Montezuma Well is neat, too. That cactus mat caught my eye immediately. It definitely would have come with me.

    1. Hi was a fun week. Looking back at the blog, we hadn't been to Sedona in 71/2 years (except for an over nighter) and both times it was in the spring.