Painted Desert Inn

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Petrified Forest National Park

Stock-market turmoil took a toll on construction projects in the 1930s, but the Painted Desert Inn was an exception. In 1936, the National Park Service bought the original inn, built 12 years earlier, with the intent of rehabilitating it and adding running water and electricity. But that building was later deemed a lost cause. It wasn’t politically correct to fund new construction during the Great Depression, so the Park Service proceeded under the guise of “rebuilding,” even though little of the original structure was preserved. And when crews gathered wood for the inn’s roof from national forests, the Park Service called it “forest thinning” to avoid scrutiny. Lyle Bennett designed the new structure, which features the adobe façade and pine-beam ceilings typical of the Pueblo Revival style. The inn hasn’t hosted overnight guests since the 1950s, but today, the Park Service operates it as a museum and gift shop, and it endures as one of the few Depression-era structures in America’s national parks.

DIRECTIONS: From Holbrook, go east on Interstate 40 for 26 miles to Petrified Forest National Park (Exit 311). The Painted Desert
Inn is located along the main road through the park. There is a fee to enter the park but no additional fee to visit the inn.
CONSTRUCTED: 1937-40
BUILDERS: Civilian Conservation Corps and National Park Service
INFORMATION: Petrified Forest National Park, 928-524-6228 or www.nps.gov/pefo

Photo: The Painted Desert Inn's adobe façade dates to the late 1930s. | Mark Lipczynski