Built as a motorist cabin camp and Union 76 gas station, Moqui Camp was a quiet rest stop until it was revamped in 1966. In its second heyday, Moqui Lodge was a vintage 1960s era road motel that at one time housed The Moqui Restaurant, Curio Shop, Service Station, Beauty Shop, Enclosed Pool, and Tennis Court. It was open year-round, but during the 1990s changed to seasonal service, April 15 - Nov 15.
Above, a Fred Harvey Company recruitment film from the 1970s. This video captures the atmosphere of the old Moqui Lodge nicely. Please note you have to click the arrow twice to play it.
The original Camp had a certain charm to its small simple cabins, cafe, and service station. It was a sort of quiet buffer between the town of Tusayan and the clamor at the rim, a camp that was a combination of weeklong guests, quirky employees and other assorted characters who created a sort of revolving community. When the camp was rebuilt as a motor lodge in the 1960s, it retained that original quirky community, except that now it had four times as many guests, plus a small army of personnel required to work at the various concessions.
By the late 1960s the lodging business at the rim had become overrun. Customers with pockets full of cash were being turned away for lack of beds, and the Harvey Company chafed in the increasing glow of taillights heading south to Tusayan for lodging, meals, and the after dinner trips through the curio shop. Moqui Lodge was an ideal solution to this problem; it could house the folks who couldn't fit in the existing lodges and it could snare dog tired day trippers before they reached the competition in Tusayan. And because Moqui already had the necessary infrastructure to serve meals and sell bric-a-brac, it could do everything the Harvey Co. needed.
Guests enjoyed Moqui, but unless they were "in the know," it was usually their last choice when the call was made to Harvey and then Xanterra. Most wanted to stay on the rim, and would pick the soulless Yavapai or Maswik for proximity, unaware that they were missing out on the charm and coziness of time spent in the A-frame.
Harvey employees lived on the Moqui campus (see "Mouseketeers" sidebar, at right) and developed their own closely-knit community from year to year. Those who worked at other properties at the Canyon recall time at Moqui as their favorite.
Former "Moqui Mouseketeer" Don Weidenger recalls a range of experiences one summer:
...I worked at the Moqui Lodge during the summer of 1973. Lou Caballero was the front desk manager at the time. I lived in a trailer in back of the lodge. I made a lot of friends that Summer and had a good time. I even fell in love with a Native American girl by the name of Marie. I still have a picture of her! I worked as a bell hop and courtesy car driver. I remember one time Lou sent me out to check on a motorhome that had been parked in the lot for a few days. He wanted to charge them for staying in the lot. I knocked on the door and after receiving no answer, opened the door (I was told by Lou not to come back until I made contact). There was a dead guy in the back bedroom! I think it was later determined he drank himself to death.
The focal point of Moqui Lodge of course was the massive, modern A-frame chalet. It served as reception area, lobby, and gateway to the Moqui Restaurant (specializing in Mexican food). Although it appeared thoroughly modern at first glance, the A-frame could easily be identified as parkitecture because of its huge natural timbers, stone fireplace (with significant use of petrified wood) and general woodsy ambiance. Although highly active at times, Moqui had a tranquil atmosphere that could be elusive at the rim. Visually, the A-frame reflected the front entry of Bright Angel. So even though it was not designed as a park-style lodge, and despite the fact that the lodging areas were more in line with Mission 66, Moqui fit quite well aesthetically in the mix of Grand Canyon lodging.
Moqui Lodge finished its run at Grand Canyon as sort of an afterthought, more or less an "overflow" motel when rim lodging was full. After the heyday of the 1970s-80s, room reservations began to decline. As Moqui entered the new millenium, occupancy was often as low as a dozen rooms per night -- hardly enough to justify the sizable staff needed to keep it running. Sadly, the quirky A-frame was torn down shortly after it closed. Today the property has been cleaned and replanted; the site is quickly becoming unrecognizable.