Petrified Forest Concession Services to Change Hands

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Date: November 9, 2015
Contact: Sarah Hervé, (928) 524-6228 ext. 264

The Fred Harvey Company began operating the Painted Desert Inn in 1946, selling gas and gifts and serving food to Route 66 travelers in Petrified Forest National Park. In the late 1950’s, when the Painted Desert Community Complex was being designed and Route 66 was giving way to Interstate 40, the Fred Harvey Company signed on to construct a new restaurant, gift shop, and gas station to continue serving park visitors. The Fred Harvey Company was bought by the company now known as Xanterra Parks and Resorts and has held the current concession contract at Petrified Forest since 1984, the last 21 years on 1-year extensions of a 10 year contract.

Xanterra decided not to bid on the new contract for services at Petrified Forest that was made available by the National Park Service in August, ensuring that a new concessionaire would begin to provide services to visitors starting in 2016.

The successful bidder and new park concessionaire will be Ortega National Parks, a family owned company that has roots in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico that go back to the 1870’s. The family owns and operates the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup and several businesses in both retail and food service on the square in Santa Fe. They also operate park concession contracts at other national park sites including Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, Acadia National Park in Maine, and the Stovepipe Wells area of Death Valley National Park in California.

“First I want to thank Xanterra Parks and Resorts for being our visitor services partner for the last 70 years”, said Superintendent Brad Traver. “They did many good things for this park and we appreciate their service to visitors and their role in protecting this park for so many years. At the same time, we are excited to welcome Ortega National Parks to the scene. The competition was spirited and it is clear Ortega has lots of good ideas for improvements in the services we provide. We look forward to working with them for the next ten years.”

Mr. Armand Ortega, principal owner of the firm said, "We are delighted to be selected to operate the concession at Petrified Forest National Park. My family has a long history doing business in the local area. The Ortegas began as shepherds and ranchers in the Holbrook area, on land just outside the park. In fact, I grew up in my family's trading post "The Hopi House" which was between Holbrook and Winslow until the Interstate was built over it. And we currently run several businesses in the area including the El Rancho Hotel in nearby Gallup, NM. We look forward to reaching out to the existing staff about employment as well as local artists, craftsmen, and farmers who would like to do business with us as we ramp up for the start of operations."

The transition is expected to occur in January of 2016. One new service will start next summer—an ice cream and refreshments counter at the Painted Desert Inn.

Further information can be found online at:

Last updated: November 22, 2015

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Mailing Address:

1 Park Road, #2217
Petrified Forest, AZ 86028


(928) 524-6228

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