The Painted Desert Inn was the vision of homesteader Herbert Lore. By 1924, the two-story inn was built on a high perch overlooking the Painted Desert. The Inn was nicknamed the "Stone Tree House" because the entire facade was covered in petrified wood, 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 American Indian arts and crafts in the trading post room, and enjoy a cool drink in the tap room. Guest 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. At that time a road ran from the inn's entrance (today's back door) directly into the desert.
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.