current image of yavapai

photo courtesy Xanterra

Yavapai Lodge Grand Canyon NP, 1958
Not Classified
Location: South Rim, Mather Village
Theme: Mission 66 Modern
Construction by the Fred Harvey Co. 1957-1958
Known Timeline:
Originally opened with 96 rooms, 1958
Second phase construction added 64 rooms, 1962
Sold to the Fred Harvey Co., 1954
Central Services Building and more rooms added 1972
Current room count 358


Yavapai was the first new construction undertaken by the Harvey Co. as a result of the "Mission 66" initiative outlined by the NPS in 1956. Mission 66 was an overall vision for the NPS, with specific plans drawn up for each Park Service unit. The original goal at GCNP was to provide 2500 rooms and 7500 meals per day at the South Rim's Grand Canyon Village targeting the anticipated needs of 1966. The original targets of Mission 66 were never realized -- except for the crush of people, which by 1966 far exceeded the projections made in 1956.

Yavapai 1960s

above, Yavapai shortly after completion. Subsequent changes to the roofline, windows and other updates have softened this appearance to a more natural, rustic look; scroll down to the photo at the bottom of the page.

Of all the construction projects resulting from Mission 66, Yavapai is arguably the least imaginative, however it is easily the least obtrusive. Later projects such as Thunderbird and Kachina would have a far more negative impact on the visual experience at the South Rim. Yavapai is located far enough from the Rim and is generally surrounded by enough foliage that it blends as well as could be hoped for in its village setting. This wasn't always the case, as the photo above records the impression of a post-construction "motel plopped down in the scrub." Plantings have grown in nicely after 50 years; the grounds are pleasant and tranquil today.

Yavapai Lodge in the 1960s

Decor at Yavapai is continuously updated as styles evolve. Here's an interior view from the mid 1960s.

Considering the hustle and bustle generally found at high-volume service buildings within National Parks, the scene at Yavapai is extremely quiet and peaceful by comparison. Although the layout and design are about as charming as an interstate motel, the rooms are sizable and generally in excellent condition, and clean. Like most of the Xanterra properties, it represents an excellent value compared to similar properties at other National Parks, and a superior value compared to motels outside Grand Canyon NP.

standard guest room

current appearance of standard double room, photo courtesy of Xanterra


Yavapai Lodge is a collection of motel structures set amidst the forest, a few thousand feet from the South Rim. It is an excellent value -- possibly the best lodging value in the park for a family of four. Individual room accessibility, decor, cleanliness & quality are excellent. It is not classified by NPLAS because it has no historic value, and the overall structure does not provide a significant National Park Lodge experience.

yavapai lodge east

Above, Yavapai East. Below, Yavapai West. Contrast this current photo of Yavapai West with the stark 1960s exterior shot above; it's the same structure. Today's extended roof and posts visually draw the building down, giving it a more natural connection to the earth. Photos courtesy Xanterra.

yavapai lodge west

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Canyon Cafe

Quick meals are available at Yavapai. The food may not excite the gourmand, but the facilities are extremely clean and well-maintained. Service is efficient, and pricing is reasonable.

Grand Canyon NP Lodges

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