|Our first outing during our Sedona Week was to Montezuma's Well/Castle. These two sites are in the Verde Valley, located about 15 miles east of Sedona. They were used and inhabited by ancient Sinagua peoples between 900 and 1300 A.D. The Castle is a large, and basically intact, 5-story structure located a few miles from the well. Early settlers to the Verde Valley thought the dwelling to be so impressive that it must have been the palace of Aztec leader Montezuma (hence the name). The Well remains a spiritual place for Native Americans, for the Sinaguans believed that their origin came from the center of the earth via Montezuma's Well. Although laced with arsenic, the water remains at a comfortable 74 degrees and continues to boil up from a basalt dam embedded deep in the earth. The Well contains over 15 million gallons of water, most of it falling as rain over 10,000 years ago along Arizona's Mogollon Rim. Amazing! The water itself is a deep green, and the Well operates like a bowl with a crack on one side, with water running out a very narrow opening to a beautiful stream. The high arsenic limits fish populations, but the Well is home to a rare species of amphipods (shrimp like creatures), as well as leeches and water scorpions (all at war with each other). Just what Arizona needs is another form of scorpions. I didn't know they came in an aquatic variety. Guess I'd better watch what is swimming in our pool in Fountain Hills. The rim of the Well also has several ancient structures, much smaller than the Castle.