A cool canyon sanctuary at the confluence of two creeks
Mayhew Lodge, constructed of hand-smoothed logs and adorned with a towering rock chimney, was a rustic retreat attracting politicians, and movie stars. But this grand lodge had primitive beginnings.
In the early 1870s, when there was no road or electricity and grizzly bears still roamed Oak Creek Canyon, a hunter known as Bear Howard built the first cabin on site. Howard earned his nickname after a friend was mauled to death, an event that prompted Bear to hunt and kill every grizzly in the canyon, and according to local legend, sometimes with only a knife.
Then years after Bear built the original cabin, the Thomas family enlarged the cabin and planted apple orchards. Over time, other families homesteaded here.
Western writer Zane Grey's travels through the canyon inspired his novel, Call of the Canyon. In 1923, Flagstaff photographer Carl Mayhew came to this site to work on a film of Grey's novel. Mathew purchased the property, added on to the existing cabin, and opened Mayhew Lodge to guests in 1926. The Mayhew family operated the lodge through 1968. Mayhew's canyon resort gained national and international fame and catered to may notable guests including President Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Stewart and Walt Disney. Another famous
guest, Clark Gable even celebrated an anniversary at the lodge.
A Picture of the Past
The Forest Service acquired this property in 1968 but closed it to the public, lacking funds for restoration. In 1980 a fire burned the entire complex, leaving only the foundations you see today.
The lodge fireplace and some of the wall still stand. Behind you are the remains of a cabin that was converted to chicken coop, as well as an opening in the cliff wall that was likely used by early settlers for food storage.