No trip to the Grand Canyon would be complete without visiting El Tovar.
This historic lodge sits on the canyon rim and is a great stop for lodging, a meal, or just a drink. Built in 1905 after the Sante Fe railroad reached the Grand Canyon, this hotel became the stop of choice for America’s turn-of-the-century wealthy travelers. It’s native rock and Oregon Pine construction, with large deck, rooftop finial, and large wrap around decks, and stuffed wildlife-adorned lobby make this an enjoyable stop.
The hotel was named in honor of the Spanish explorer, Pedro de Tobar, who had his first expedition to this Hopi Indian country in 1540. The Grand Canyon’s concessions were run by the Fred Harvey Company, as they were also the concessionaire along the Sante Fe route since 1876. The El Tovar became known far and wide for its modern amenities such as electric lights, fresh fruit grown in its local green house, and dairy products from its on-site farm. Most of all, its reputation spread for its unbeatable hospitality and that persists today.
This hotel is the signature structure of this National Park – it is to the Grand Canyon that Old Faithful Inn is to Yellowstone. It’s majestic setting and structure, manicured green lawns and its perch on the rim set it apart from the others. One of my favorite pictures of the hotel is the one I took of it from the Bright angel trail (see above).
Today, this historic hotel is run by Xanterra Parks & Resorts and they do a superb job at preserving the tradition and character of this beautiful property. Our family chose to have our final morning breakfast in the Grand Canyon here and really enjoyed the hotel experience. Note to frugal parents…this was a great way (breakfast) to have a sit-down meal at a fancy restaurant for a family of six, spending a fraction of what we would had we tried to get reservations there for dinner!
If your Grand Canyon vacation includes a stay in the Grand Canyon Village along the south rim, be sure to include a stop by the El Tovar. It’s at the upper-end of the lodging pricing, but you can enjoy it by visiting the restaurant, or just stop by the gift shop to check out the place. You can easily walk there along the rim trail from the other lodges and the bright angel trail-head. Adjacent to the Hopi House, this was also a great spot to view the Canyon sunset along the rim trail.