This is one of those finds that come from following a brown sign with white lettering. Back on Hwy 17 heading north we see the sign and make the decision to check it out. Who hasn’t heard of Montezuma? And this is his well! Cool, let’s go see what we find.
After a short drive on a two lane access road we arrive at the small parking lot. There are only a few other cars here which makes me hope it won’t be too crowded. We are in luck as the one group milling about the ranger hut are on jeep tour and are just about to get back on their vehicle and head out. As an extra, added bonus this is one of those seemingly rare no fee sights! Leashed dogs are also welcome (which is good or we wouldn’t be staying 😉
The “tour” is short (probably a 1/2 mile loop), self-guided trail which is wheelchair accessible as well. Heading up the short rise starting at the ranger hut we crest the little hill in about 2 minutes and there it is. An oasis putting out about 1.5 million gallons of fresh water a day in the middle of the Arizona desert.
There are several informational signs showing old photos of the area and info about how life was “back then.” Not dummies, the area’s inhabitants built small homes out of rock in the wall surrounding the well. I didn’t take pictures of the signs at the top of the hill looking down into the well but do remember that there are a native population of lamprey living in the well which served as a food source for the past inhabitants.
Willow seemed unimpressed especially after she found out she was not allowed to take a dip.
As we head down the path that will take us to the spring’s outflow point there are numerous little signs showing us what this or that plant is and what it was once, and can still be, used for. Quite interesting for those who are into bushcraft or might be fans of the native arts, natural medicines and foraging for wild edibles. A few examples:
Sadly, when we reach the outflow point we are met by a sign telling us the area is closed because of erosion issues and repairs are underway. When we get back to the ranger hut I asked about that and was told the path has been undercut by the exiting waters and in some places the it is essentially an unstable rock bridge over the creek that can collapse at any moment. When I asked about the timeline for the repairs to be completed I was informed that they have not even started and that, because of budgetary constraints (IIRC the estimate for repairs is close to $1M), this will not be happening any time soon. So, since they collect no fee but do have a donation box, we put a fiver in and urge any of you who might visit to do the same.
After putting out Willow’s water bowl to refresh her after the walk we get back in the Tacoma and head towards Hwy 17 and onwards on our adventure.