Day: February 25th, 2007

Dinner at El Tovar

Sunday, February 25th, 2007 | All Things, Eats, Travel

Canyon sunset:

Grand Canyon Sunset

Grand Canyon Sunset

Stunning, eh? Just remember to watch your step!

Danger Sign

I had read that reservations are essential for dining at the historic El Tovar Hotel, which is generally considered the best table at the Canyon. J and I made the arrangements our first day in the park, so after our long day on the trails, we were looking forward to fine dining in relative luxury.

The pine and stone hotel was built in 1905, just 20 feet from the Canyon rim, and is a registered National Historic Landmark. The El Tovar originated as a “Harvey House,” one of an American Southwest chain of railway hotels and restaurants built from the 1870s by English immigrant Fred Harvey in conjunction with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. The hotel was staffed then by single women recruited through newspaper ads from towns and cities across the country, who came to be known as “Harvey Girls.” The Fred Harvey Company, now Xanterra Parks & Resorts, has managed El Tovar since it opened over a century ago.

The casually elegant hotel is modeled after a European hunting lodge. It was designed by Charles Whittlesey, the Railway’s chief architect, and decorated with Native American artwork by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who was also responsible for many of the historic structures around the Grand Canyon.

El Tovar lobby

The rustic 19th-century dining room is built of hand-hewn logs, with beamed ceilings and picture windows that overlook the South Rim. After seven hours on muleback, braving biting winds and rugged terrain, our china-plated mesquite-grilled entrees and glasses of wine never felt so civilized.

El Tovar dining room

El Tovar charger

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Up, up, up and out

Sunday, February 25th, 2007 | All Things, Travel

The 6-mile ride back up to the rim took about an hour longer than the descent. Along the way, there were rest stops, during which the mules turned to face out into canyon as they caught their breaths, while we riders remained in our saddles and just enjoyed the view.

Plateau Point

Indian Gardens


A goat and raven, enjoying the same view:

Goat and Raven

The mules worked up quite a sweat tackling the Jacobs Ladder switchbacks, and as the temperatures dropped, the moisture on their fur turned to ice crystals.

Jacobs Ladder Rest

A look back at Plateau Point, the end of the trail. Hard to believe we were there just a couple hours earlier.

Plateau Point View

Mule Trail

Back at the corrals, our group dismounted before the small crowd that had gathered to catch the amusing spectacle. J and I hobbled our way back to the lodge, backs throbbing, knees buckling, bones aching,… and yes, it was entirely worth it.

Phantom Ranch in 2008?

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The view of a lifetime

Sunday, February 25th, 2007 | All Things, Travel

At Plateau Point: flat ground at last!

Plateau Point

Vibrant purple cacti marked the change in climate:

Plateau Cacti

When at last we made our wobbly dismount, J and I brought our box lunches to the rocks overlooking Granite Gorge.

Plateau Gorge

The Canyon rose up around us. A pair of jet-black ravens swirled in the sky overhead. And everywhere, there was this:

Plateau Raven

Plateau Point

Plateau Point

The Colorado River — 800 feet below:

Colorado River

Sassy and Cajun, et. al.

Plateau Mules

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