RVing in Central Arizona: Distant Drums RV Resort + 2 National Monuments

After we left Trudy behind to get shipped to her new owners, we left Phoenix for our first official stop with The Fox since we bought it.  We knew we wanted to boondock in Sedona, which would have been our next stop if we didn’t have concerns – concerns being that we were going to be towing our new rig a long distance for the first time, and we didn’t want the trip to be too long. We also knew that we wanted to boondock in Sedona, and decided that we needed a stop in between to test our new RV with full hookups and to just let the dust settle after our hellish buy/sell process with both rigs. So it sounded good to us to stay somewhere right off of the freeway and with full hookups. Enter: Distant Drums RV Resort in Camp Verde, AZ.

Ridin’ dirty

We were only able to get a spot at Distant Drums RV Resort Monday-Thursday. Again, we were running into snowbird season in Arizona and trouble finding availability. We enjoyed our full hookups for those 4 days. Distant Drums RV Resort was just okay. We were put into a very small spot, and the angle of it was such that Tim had to back into the spot blindly. It was known amongst the campground staff as the hardest spot for a fifth wheel to fit into. Just what you want when you’re driving the fifth wheel for the first time, right? The staff member who backed us in was very talented and was able to instruct Tim exactly how to maneuver into the spot. Without him, we would have never gotten in.

All of the RVs are fit in like a jigsaw puzzle

The campground is run by the Navajo Nation. Although the RVs were extremely tightly packed in, the park was very clean and well maintained. They had a nice pool, and a gym. It’s rare that campgrounds have a gym, but in my mind, it’s a huge perk whenever there is one! The pool was also awesome because it was so hot during our stay here! Any time I can swim in the winter months, I’m happy. It makes me really happy to share my love of swimming with Calla. I grew up around the pool, and was on swim team and was a lifeguard as a teen. I also taught swim lessons.

Lifting weights at Distant Drums
Heading to the pool
Swim, swim, swim!

So not much to say about Distant Drums other than it was slightly nicer than a typical RV resort because of the amenities, but it was somewhat ruined by how tight the spots are in the campground. It was across the street from a casino. They gave you free $10 to use at the casino, so I went over and was reminded why I hate casinos! I left losing the $10 and then some, which I suppose is exactly why they hand out that “free” money to begin with!

Distant Drums also happened to be very close to 3 national monuments. We didn’t realize this until after we booked our stay, so it was a pleasant surprise! Turns out there is more to see in Central Arizona than you may think.

Montzeuma Castle & Montezuma Well National Monument

These 2 national monuments are about a 15 minute drive apart. Montezuma Castle charges admission, and Montezuma Well is free.

Montezuma Castle was really special. It is an 800-year-old cliff dwelling built into a limestone cliff. Because tourists aren’t allowed to go up into in the dwellings, they are well preserved. It’s truly amazing to see this towering ancient version of an apartment building built into rock. There was a Native American there playing traditional music, which added to the ambiance. You feel an immense sense of respect for the Sinagua people who lived on this land far before us. I’m not sure how to explain it, but this national monument had a spirit about it.

Tim and a snoozin’ Calla at Montzeuma Castle

Montezuma Well was really cool, too. Water is extremely rare in Arizona, but the Singhua people found this natural spring and lived their lives around it. It is still considered sacred. From the NPS website:

“The constant supply of warm, 74 degree water was the life-blood of the people who made their home here. Over 1.5 million gallons of water flows into the Well every day, a rate that has not fluctuated measurably despite recent droughts throughout the state of Arizona.”

Pretty amazing. There are also more cliff dwellings built into the rocks around Montezuma Well.

Tim, Calla, and her milkshake at Montezuma Well. Did I mention she has a thing for milkshakes?
Natural Springs…not novel on the East Coast, extremely novel in the desert!

Tuzigoot National Monument

Tuzigoot National Monument was a chance walk inside and on top of an Sinagua pueblo. Tuzigoot was built over 1,000 years ago. Our few stops in central AZ really taught us more about the Native Americans who occupied the area. We both thought that we never learned too much about this in history class, so we were glad to have the chance to re-discover this part of our country’s history. The craftsmanship of Tuzigoot is just beautiful. It was hard to get a good picture of the whole thing, because the monument is up on a hill and there is no good way to stand below it and get a photo. So you’ll have to take my word for it!

Calla and I on top of the pueblo
Calla and Tim at Tuzigoot National Monument
Standing in the ruins

So the 4 days we were supposed to spend relaxing after a stressful time and to adjust to our new rig were spent exploring. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. The Camp Verde area of Arizona has a lot more to offer than we thought. If you are ever on your way north from Phoenix, definitely stop!

Date Visited: End of March/Early April 2018

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