Painted Desert Inn
of the primary landmarks in the Painted
Desert is the Painted Desert Inn.
The vision of Herbert Lore, a local
homesteader, he began constructing the two-story Inn on a high perch overlooking
Desert in 1920. It was first called the "Stone Tree House"
because so much petrified wood was used in its construction. In 1924, he
registered it as a business and claimed property under the Homestead Act.
For almost twelve years, Lore operated the Inn as a tourist attraction.
Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase
and crafts, and enjoy a cool drink in the downstairs taproom. Rooms were
available for $2-4 dollars per night. Lore also gave 2-hour motor car
tours through the Black Forest in the Painted
Desert below. An isolated oasis in the Painted
it was without electrical connections, so an onsite lighting-plant was built to supply
electricity. Water was hauled from Adamana, ten miles south on the Puerco
The Painted Desert Inn when owned by
Herbert Lore in the 1920's, vintage postcard.
This image available for photo prints & commercial
The inn was built of wood and native stone in the Pueblo Revival style.
Outside, flagstone terraces surrounded by low walls overlooked the desert.
The building’s stone walls are more than two feet thick and finished with
textured earth-toned stucco. Multiple flat roofs with parapets give the
inn its varied massing, and Ponderosa Pine logs pierce the walls, adding
play between light and shadow.
In 1932, over 53,000 acres was added to
National Monument, including much of the Painted
Desert, adding not only
scenic value, but also to protect the natural resources. This ultimately
helped to push legislation through to upgrade the national monument to
national park status. In 1936, the Painted Desert Inn and other sections
of land owned by Herbert Lore were purchased by Petrified Forest National
Monument. Work quickly began on
updating the Inn's
electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. Guest rooms, a new entryway, a
dining room and a shaded porch were added to the original structure, as
well as stained glass ceiling panels, hammered tin chandeliers, and
During the Dust Bowl
days, thousands of heartland residents fled west on
in search of a better life. Hollywood documented the era in The
Grapes Wrath, which included scenes at the Painted Desert Inn.
In 1940, the inn opened
under the management of the Fred Harvey Company, which was famous in
the Southwest for providing hospitality services to tourists and
travelers on the Santa Fe Railroad. For two years, the inn offered
Route 66 travelers food, souvenirs, and lodging, and local people with
event and meeting space. It closed in 1942, as American involvement
with World War II shifted resources away from domestic programs.
In 1947, the Inn reopened, complete with the
legendary Harvey Girls complimenting the Inn with their excellent
service in the spotless dining room. That same year,
the Harvey Company’s noted architect and interior designer, Mary
Jane Colter, was given responsibility for renovations of the facility.
Along with overseeing repair work, Colter created a new interior color
scheme and made other changes. New plate glass windows to capitalize on
the magnificent surrounding landscape were an important addition. At
Colter’s behest, Hopi artist Fred Kabotie painted murals on the dining
room and lunchroom walls that are reflections of Hopi culture. The Harvey
Girls provided their legendary service to the public at the Painted Desert
Inn. In 1848, the Painted Desert Inn
park's northern headquarters.
After World War II,
became busier than ever as people began to experience "vacations." For many, the Mother Road included a stop at the
and a bite to eat or curio shopping at the
Painted Desert Inn.
Over the next
decade, the inn declined and suffered from structural damage. In 1963, the
inn closed and a new facility opened to house the park visitor center and
the Fred Harvey operations. Already suffering from
foundation problems, the building sat abandoned for the next 27 years.
Only open for periodic events, deterioration continued to occur and the
building was nearly demolished in 1965 and again in 1975. A public
campaign helped save the building, which the National Park Service listed
in the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Secretary of the
Interior recognized the historic significance of the inn by designating it
a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
In 2006, the Painted Desert Inn reopened following its
restoration. The inn now appears as it would have in 1949. Functioning as
a museum and bookstore today, visitors again are able to experience the
exquisite architectural details and richly colored walls of the Painted
Desert Inn. Some highlights include the Trading Post Room, a magnificent
architectural space with six hammered-tin, Mexican-style chandeliers, an
enormous skylight, and windows overlooking the desert.
The skylight has multiple
panes of translucent glass painted in Indian pottery designs. The posts
supporting the corbels and vigas are painted in muted colors. The inn
still has the original Fred Kabotie murals. A large and stunning mountain
lion petroglyph is on display inside the inn. Discovered in the 1930’s,
the petroglyph is considered one of the finest, most vividly animated and
lifelike depictions of mountain lions in the region.
During the Pueblo I Era, most sites were single-family homes; but, as soils
became exhausted, many sites were abandoned by 1250 A.D. in favor of very
large multi-room pueblos close to more dependable sources of water. This
was more than likely the case with the Puerco Pueblo situated in today's
Petrified Forest National Park. Overlooking the Puerco River, this 100 room pueblo built around 1250,
surrounded an open plaza. The rooms had no windows or doors but each could
be entered by climbing a ladder and descending through a hole in the roof.
At its peak, as many as 200 people lived in the pueblo.
The residents of Puerco Pueblo farmed the dry slopes below the village,
growing cotton, corn, squash, and beans, while hunters sought game.
Artisans created and decorated clay pots.
The pueblo stood one-story high, with 2 to 3 rows of connected rooms. Within the plaza were
several rectangular ceremonial kivas. The village was a lively center,
even after the abandonment of larger Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon pueblos
to the northeast. Over time, however, the
persistently dry climate led the people to leave their home about 1380.
They were thought to have joined with their ancestors, the people of which
of today, are the Hopi or perhaps Zuni people. Fragments of their buildings and
tools, and their petroglyphs on nearby rocks, remain to tell us of their
At Puerco Pueblo and many other sites within the park, petroglyphs—images,
symbols, or designs—have been scratched, pecked, carved, or incised on
rock surfaces. Most of the petroglyphs in
Petrified Forest National Park
are thought to be between 650 and 2,000 years old.
The pueblo is near the middle of the
park. A trail to the pueblo is just a short 0.3 mile loop from the Puerco Pueblo parking area. Petroglyphs
can be viewed along the south end of the trail.
Do not climb on the boulders or walls, or, touch the petroglyphs. This
trail is paved and does not have stairs, making it suitable for strollers
and various mobility equipment.
Old Route 66
Route 66 paralleled
the railroad, generally following the Beale Road and National Old Trails
In the Petrified Forest National Park,
Route 66 bisected
the main park highway. Signs directed travelers either north to the
Painted Desert Inn
and overlooks, or south to the main petrified wood deposits. Bypassed by a
new alignment, which later became Interstate 40, in the late 1950s, the
route today is marked only by the remnants of the raised roadbed,
weathered telephone poles, and a park exhibit.
Petrified Forest National Park is
the only park in the National Park System containing a section of Historic
Route 66. From
Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California this heavily traveled highway
was not only a road, it stood as a symbol of opportunity, adventure and
exploration to travelers.
A trip from middle America to the coast could take about a week. For many,
the journey was not just across miles, it was across culture and life
styles, from the modest to the exotic. Of course, getting to your
destination was important, but the trip itself was a reward. From the neon
signs of one-of-a-kind motels to burgers and chicken fried steaks in the
multitude of restaurants; from the filling stations that served as
miniature oases to gaudy tourist traps, more than 2,200 miles of open road
After long hours of travel, here was a special place to take a break, a
welcome stop to rest, stretch your legs, sip a cold drink, and admire the
Painted Desert Inn
welcomed all with an air of hospitality and allure.
Bypassed by a new alignment (now Interstate 40) in the late 1950s the
route today is marked only by the remnants of the raised roadbed, a lonely
line of telephone poles, and a park exhibit marking the old intersection.
a tribute to this remarkable America icon.
Gaze down the long road...and listen. You may hear echoes of the past,
There are other places
Petrified Forest National Park that are also listed on the National
Register of Historic Places including the Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs and
Archaeological District and Twin Buttes Archaeological District.
The Painted Desert Visitor Center provides information, book sales,
exhibits, and restrooms. Timeless Impressions, a free orientation
film about the park, is shown every half hour. A restaurant, gift shop,
gas station, and convenience store are adjacent to the visitor center. A
second museum, the
Rainbow Forest Museum, provides exhibits of petrified wood, fossils, and
displays of prehistoric animals as well as information, book sales, and
restrooms. The orientation film is also shown here every half hour. A gift
shop and a seasonal snack bar are located nearby.
Travel through the
park is by private vehicle, bicycle, motorcycle, or commercial tour only.
The park road, parking lots, and pull outs are suitable for large
recreation vehicles, including those towing smaller vehicles. Off road
vehicle travel is not allowed within the park, including mountain bikes.
The park does not have campground facilities, and overnight parking is not
Be aware that theft of petrified wood
results in a fine. Tourists can purchase petrified wood collected legally
from private land in a number of nearby businesses. (As a side note, you might also want to know about the
Curse of the Petrified Forest. Read
Hiking opportunities are
limited. The longest established trail in the park extends for only two
miles; the others are one mile or less. Backcountry camping and hiking are
allowed by permit only.
Forest National Park
1 Park Road
of America, updated April, 2016