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Nestled into a limestone recess high above the flood plain of Beaver Creek in the Verde Valley stands one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in North America. The five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling served as a "high-rise apartment building" for prehistoric Sinagua Indians over 600 years ago. Early settlers to the area assumed that the imposing structure was associated with the Aztec emperor Montezuma, but the castle was abandoned almost a century before Montezuma was born.
With heightened concern over vandalism of fragile southwestern prehistoric sites, Montezuma Castle became a major factor in the nation's historic preservation movement with its proclamation as a national monument. The Castle was described in the December 1906 establishment proclamation as "of the greatest ethnological and scientific interest." Acreage: 840.86, federal: 16.83, non-federal.
Park in Focus
Yellowstone National Park
Overview: Established on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone National Park is the first and oldest national park in the world.
Preserved within Yellowstone are Old Faithful Geyser and some 10,000 hot springs and geysers, the majority of the planet's total. These geothermal wonders are evidence of one of the world's largest active volcanoes; its last eruption created a crater or caldera that spans almost half of the park.
An outstanding mountain wildland with clean water and air, Yellowstone is home of the grizzly bear and wolf, and free-ranging herds of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, one of the largest intact temperate zone ecosystems remaining on the planet.
The human history of the park dates back 12,000 years. The events of the last 130 years of park history are reflected in the historic structures and sites associated with various periods of park administration and visitor facilities development.