Stone Tree House
The Painted Desert Inn was the vision of Herbert Lore, a local homesteader. He constructed the two-story Inn on a high perch overlooking the Painted Desert by 1924. The Inn was nicknamed the "Stone Tree House" because so much petrified wood was used in its construction, a tangible tie to the landscape.
For almost twelve years, Lore operated the Inn as a tourist attraction. Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase Native American arts 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.
The inn was an isolated oasis in the Painted Desert. Without connections to electrical lines, an onsite lighting-plant was built to supply electricity. Water was hauled from Adamana, 10-miles south on the Puerco River.
In 1932 Petrified Forest National Monument expanded with the addition of 53,300 acres of the Painted Desert, not including Lore's property. In 1931 Lore had expressed interest in selling or exchanging his property "in order that it could be preserved and protected." It was not until 4-years later that the National Park Service purchased the Inn and four sections of land for $59,400.
The inn has evolved over the decades. Although the original design has been altered, it survives as a testimony to one man's vision in a landscape of exceptional beauty.
Did You Know?
Standing on the edge of a vast badlands landscape, a Spanish explorer is rumored to have named the area "El Desierto Pintado" (The Painted Desert) because the hills looked like they were painted with the colors of the sunset.