The romantic sentiment that comes with castles didn’t get left behind as early settlers traveled to the Wild West. The open land, pink sunsets, beautiful land formations and free spirit invited the opportunity for dreams to come true. Just as medieval castles were built to provide family protection, comfort and luxury, while making a statement to those outside the walls; these selected castles in Arizona are no different. Behind each castle wall is a story of the love, labor and an aspiration to make a dream come true.
1. Mystery Castle
Mystery Castle, Phoenix AZ Photo by Kaila White
In the 1930′s, Seattle native, Boyce Gully, moved out to Arizona without his family after being diagnosed with tuberculosis in effort to save them from the suffering all would endure due to his illness. He was told he only had six months to live, which turned out to be 15 years. Gully was sad about having left his family and had decided to built a castle for the daughter hoping to show her how much he really loved her. Using recycled building materials and random objects like wheels and spokes, Gully had successfully built his “little princess” a castle stone by stone. This castle consists of 18 rooms, 13 fireplaces and is over 8,000 square feet. A year after news of his death, his wife and daughter, Mary Lou, moved into the castle. To this day, Mary Lou still lives in the castle built by the father who loved her so much. Visitors can take a tour of the castle, though tours times are lessening as she now in her 70′s. This grandeur statement of affection holds intimations of a father who wanted his daughter to know him; yet the need to protect her from his illness was greater.
Mystery Castle is open from early October to end of May on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get there before 3:30 p.m. if you want to take the last tour. Try to visit before it gets too hot! Call to check if it is open at 602-268-1581.
800 E. Mineral Road Phoenix, AZ 85042
2. Montezuma Castle
This well-preserved cliff dwelling was once the home to the Pre-Columbian Sinagua people dating back to about 700AD. Located on the way to Sedona near Camp Verde, Montezuma Castle has been a home to many for generations. This five-story stone and mortar homestead contains 20 rooms and would house about 50 people at a time. Its high postition in the cliffs offered the cliff dwellers protection from both enemies and the elements. Though it is believed that the area was briefly abandoned due to the ash form the Sunset Crater Volcano. It was last occupied in 1425AD and the reasons for abandonment of their habitation sites are not yet known; but warfare, drought, and clashes with the newly-arrived Yavapai people have been suggested.
Follow I-17 to exit 293 (4 miles north of the exit for Montezuma Castle). Continue through the towns of McGuireville and Rimrock, following the signs for four miles to the entrance to the Well. There is no fee to enter Montezuma Well.
3. Copenhaver Castles
This castle is a private resident located on the south side of Camelback Mountain, a popular place for residents to hike as it is a beautiful mountain located in the heart of the city.It was modeled after an old Moorish fortress in Spain that the designer and builder had remembered seeing in a movie when he was a child. The castle was built over a twelve-year period by Phoenix orthodontist, Dr. Mort Copenhaver.
Dr. Copenhaver was known to have donated money to missions in Mexico, and in exchange some of the Hispanic missionaries had come and helped him with building the castle. Dental patients also bartered construction projects for dental services. The interior of the 7,000 square foot castle was built using eight levels, with ten balconies providing a great view of the valley. It has twenty rooms, including five bedrooms, seven and one half bathrooms, four fireplaces, and three garages and carports. The living room has a seventeen foot waterfall that cascades above the fireplace. The Great room features a spa that seats twenty people. Above it is a retractable roof for views of the famous Arizona blue sky, or a wonderful view of the stars. The dungeon can be accessed through one of the many secret passageways in the home, and a helicopter pad is located on the roof for easier travel to the airport. There is a drawbridge, and a moat, and almost everything one would expect from a moorish castle. There’s even slots to shoot arrows through. The massive stone walls and solid construction of the building is a guarantee of its ability to still be standing on Camelback Mountain centuries from now.
5050 E. Red Rock Road Phoenix, Arizona
4. Sibley Castle
Sibley Castle located in the Galiuro Mountains of Arizona, About 100 miles southeast of Phoenix in what was once a old mining camp called Copper Creek. The castle is a two story structure which was built around 1908. The home once contained 20 rooms and polished oak floors. E. Roy Sibley was the manager of the Copper Creek Mine and his wife, Belle, was the postmaster at the post office that was estableished on March 6, 1907. The town consisted of about 500 people, which included a physician, stage line, mansion, and many other buildings, much of which was built on tiers as the town was in a canyon. Today much of the town site remains and can be explored.
Copper Creek, Arizona – Take the road from town up the creek. Accessible by walking.
5. Agua Verde
This castle is a private residence built by Duane Durham. He built this castle for his wife and daughters in Vail, Arizona, which is about southeast of Tucson. Very few people have actually been inside this castle, but it is rumored to have extraordinary decor as each room has a differnt theme. There is a train that travels around the perimeter that the children once rode on. Though this house is not one visitors can tour, it is quite beautiful to see. It’s perched at the top of a hill, mysterious and ripe for legendary tales to be made.
6. Castles and Coasters
Alright, so maybe this isn’t a real castle, but this is a favorite among the kiddos. Castles and Coasters is located in central Phoenix and is a great place for the kids to have an afternoon doing their thing. From miniature golf and bumper boats to rides and even a full scale roller coaster, Castles and Coasters is sure to be a good time for the whole family.
9445 Metro Parkway East
Phoenix, AZ 85051
Thanks to http://www.dupontcastle.com/ for the collection of castles and information.