Built in 1935
The Lodge sits at the top of Bright Angel Trail Head, overlooking the Grand Canyon. It was constructed nearly 30 years after El Tovar was built. Back in 1905, wealthy tourists began traveling by train to vacation at the exclusive El Tovar resort. But the automobile opened the west to more than just rich tourists. There became a need for more modestly priced lodging. Bright Angel was the answer.
There was a welcoming, laid back feel to the lobby. So many western lodges have made me think of Lincoln Logs... which is a fun thing. But these smooth brown logs, just made me downright hungry. Toostie Rolls! That's all I could think of.
I haven't researched enough to know if these were the original colors, painted on the doors and shutters. But I love the colors!
The geometric designs, bold colors and Native American symbols were probably my favorite part of the building.
There was something just whimsical and primitive about the shapes and colors... especially against all the earth, log and stone.
This is actually the back of the building, but it faces the canyon. So really this is the side where people spend most of their time, wandering along the rim and watching the sunset towards the left and the sunrise towards the right... or the sunset in the reflection of the glass.
Unlike El Tovar, there are no guest rooms in the lodge. Scattered nearby, there are a few cabin buildings that house about 90 lodging units. We were in the Powell House with its orange door and blue framed windows. Before even entering, we were excited to find a parking space right in front of the door. This was a treat after many lodge stays with distant parking lots.
We also had no stairs once we got inside. No hikes down long hallways and up and down stairs!
Our room was in the stone section of the building. You can see our wonderful corner window, surrounded in pine trees.
Well, there was a little hall to walk down, but it was cute. Knotty pine, western style rugs, loggy trim! Our room #6141, was on the left at the end. The door with shutter/slats made me wonder about noise or privacy. But once we opened the door we found our own little hall with 2 more doors to our guest room and bathroom.
Open and Airy
There was nothing fancy here, but it was so comfy and airy, with light walls and beams and lots of windows.
Mixing New and Old
It was updated just enough. I liked the porcelain doorknobs and iron hinges. The furniture was obviously not from the thirties, but the style was close enough.
The windows were a huge plus. There were at least 6, including the bathroom window. Something about screens and wooden windows gave the room a summer camp or sleeping porch feel. I love that! And the bathroom was spotless and updated nicely. They even had the good sense to keep the original wooden mirror with its handy lower nook.
Bright Angel's Western Saloon
Our bartender was far too busy (or maybe just unfriendly) to be available for all the questions I wanted to ask about the old saloon. The bar itself had a lot of history, with old photos and even iron horseshoes under layers of shellack.
The place was empty when we first entered, so I got a good look at the fabulous murals. The yellowed images, behind glaring glass were quite entertaining! One whole wall was devoted to scenes of Hopi life, cooking, dancing, celebrating!
Behind the Bar
We had a good view of one colorful image behind a row or beer bottles. I loved the cowboy with hat and scarf, clinking his glass above the head of the guy... who'd had one too many. And then there was the tourist woman riding her canyon mule!
And what whacky tourist scenes! I loved the goofy tourists wandering along the canyon wall, with binoculars and cameras. I have no idea when these were painted!
But the saloon, was the most fun once Barry Brenner sat down in the corner with his four guitars and began filling the place with music. He sported a cowboy cool beard and a hat to match and a voice that fit his "Blues Roots Music" well. It was impossible to get bored as he moved from guitar to guitar (his girls) and changed his sound from honky tonk to ragtime to country. He only comes to perform (from California) twice a year. So we lucked out.
No table cloths or bow-ties in this cafe, but it was just what we needed. We walked through the main dining room, towards the cozy booths in the back.
We were handed a menu with the same design from when Bright Angel first opened! This "Coffee Shop" had been one of Fred Harvey's famous eateries and the menu cover was classic!
The Harvey House restaurants and hotels were known for good food and service, but sometimes old recipes don't hold up. I was intrigued to see they still served up the original recipe of the Harvey House salad. The sunflower seeds, cucumber and slivers of carrot and beets gave the salad a good crunch. The lemon dressing made the little feast taste like desert! And the lace doily gave the whole thing a vintage touch! Good beef stroganoff, too! .
Best Meal from Bright Angel
More memorable than our dinner in the cafe, was the hotdog meal we had on the edge of the canyon. The lodge had a handy snack shop where you could purchase hot dogs, coffee or ice cream. We grabbed hotdogs and chips and hiked up a ways for a little picnic. That was the best view I ever had, while eating a hotdog!
There was just such a delightful feel to the place with all the colors and the whimsical art murals, that it brought out the kid in me. Of course hotdogs and tootsie roll logs and honky-tonk music can bring out a little youth in all of us!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!