Montezuma Well is 368 feet wide with a consistent depth of fifty-five feet. It is 3,618 feet above sea level. The well is best described as a natural limestone sinkhole fed by underground springs. Some 1,400,000 gallons of water flow through the sinkhole every day. The well empties into Beaver Creek, which has historically supported various native cultures like the Hohokam and the Sinagua. The water of Montezuma Well is highly carbonated due to high levels of carbon dioxide. The water contains very little oxygen and so it cannot support fish. There are also high levels of arsenic present in the well’s water.
The well got its name from the mistaken belief that Montezuma, the infamous Aztec chief, actually lived in the nearby ruins known as Montezuma Castle. Since the Aztecs did not settle in this area, there is little doubt that Montezuma ever lived at the “castle” or set eyes on the well. Instead, the well’s water was used to irrigate crops for the ancient native people who did live nearby. Visitors to the well can still see part of a prehistoric canal that has been preserved near this location.