Featured Weekend Getaway
Fifteen years after a multimillion-dollar renovation, El Tovar remains the grande dame of Grand Canyon lodging. Located on the Canyon's South Rim, El Tovar features 78 rooms and is booked months in advance.
© Craig Smith
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By Robert Stieve & Kelly Vaughn Kramer
John Muir saw the Grand Canyon and called it "God's spectacle." The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway saw it and saw money, and thus built a spur line there to haul out copper. Turns out, there wasn't much copper in the area, so the railway built El Tovar at the then-exorbitant cost of $250,000 — the luxury resort was dubbed "the most expensively constructed and appointed log house in America." Hyperbole notwithstanding, Charles Whittlesey's design is indeed impressive. The exterior was built in the style of a European chalet, with a wrapped turret, jigsawn balustrades and cedar shakes, while the interior is pure American hunting lodge, complete with dark wood, a massive fireplace and trophy mounts. The rock is all local, which helps El Tovar blend in with the landscape, and the logs — Douglas firs — were shipped by rail from Oregon. During the planning stages, the hotel was known as Bright Angel Tavern, because of its proximity to Bright Angel Point; but before the grand opening on January 15, 1905, it was changed to El Tovar, in honor of the Spanish explorer Pedro de Tobar. Today, the hotel's 78 rooms are small and simply furnished. Few offer Rim views, but they're all mere steps from the Seventh Natural Wonder of the World.
Location: South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
1901 The first passenger train arrives at the South Rim.