Near Montezuma Castle, there rests Montezuma Well, a large sinkhole in the middle of the desert.
The well got its water from runoff of rain and melting snow from nearby mountains, all of it seeping into the earth via the path of least resistance. The well itself holds over 15 million gallons of water, but the water is unique: It has levels of dissolved carbon dioxide 80 times higher than most lakes. The result? An inhospitable environment for most fish, amphibians, and insects. The well is home to five unique species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world: an amphipod, a nocturnal leech that eats said amphipod, a water scorpion, a springtail (creepy crawler), and a single-celled plant known as a diatom.
When you arrive, you have a wonderful vista of the water, the walls of the well, and the surrounding scenery. If you look to your left, you’ll peek a few cliff dwellings. Downstairs, you can approach the waters and at the bottom, on your right, you can spy a small cavern area with a few swallet rooms. Both sets of dwellings are from the Hohokam people and were settled around 1050. Interestingly, the Hopi, Zuni, and Yavapai all have stories of their ancestors living in the area.
The still waters are broken by the occasional duck, but most of the animals swim deep below the surface. The reflective surface looks quite inviting for swimming, and the waters do hover around a nice warm temperature, but the thought of leeches lurking below will probably make you think twice before taking a dip.