historical Al Tofar Hotel Full of rustic charm from the blazing log fire in the welcoming lobby to the cozy cocktail bar serving drinks and casual food to guests. Those fortunate enough to grab one of the coveted tables at that famous watering hole look through the picture window at the stunning view of the world’s most famous canyon. Ah, now where is that mule?
Hard drink required
My husband Johnny and I have visited this remote national park many times since we launched our 23ft Grand Tour Gemini bull mobile home in 2018. Be it the North Rim or the South, we can never seem to get enough of the indescribably beautiful views of that gorgeous hole in the ground.
So, when a friend offered airline tickets to the largest canyon during a recent visit, we said: sure!
On the morning of our 45-minute flight, we arrived at the small airport and got on a twin-engine plane with four other people and hooked up. The sky was dark, but our pilot didn’t seem nervous. Then, shortly after liftoff, the dramatic dips began. Stop! is this normal?
After a thrilling and at times intimidating run we landed and our gallant captain apologized, saying the weather report had not been picked up because of the high winds we had experienced. Flights were canceled for the rest of the day. I gave the guy a fat tip and thanked him. Other passengers asked to take a picture with our hero.
I’ve battled a fear of flying over the years, and when turbulence was rocking our plane like an Indiana Jones flight at Disneyland, I looked across the aisle at my spunky companion and saw him looking frightened, searching for his barf bag. At that moment I thought: Well…it’s been a good life, right?
Johnny later told me he thought about kissing the floor after we went down, but instead we headed to the bar so he could don his mule.
For an overview of that trip, check out my profile Instagram reel.
Snow walk along the edge
For the many millions who make a trip to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a visit to the Grand Canyon involves walking from the vast parking lot to Mather Point. Selfies are taken and then you return to the car. On that last cold day in March there was loads of snow on the trails and it was snowing.
I heard a man in shorts grumble to his partner, “This better be worth it.”
it is. And – pro tip – start your visit by watching the movie at the visitor center. Narrated by Peter Coyote, the finest voice-over artist of our time, this short film, Telling the Story of a Billion Years, tells the story of a billion years succinctly.
when we arrived Al Tofar HotelWe were dizzy not to find a queue at the popular spot. First, we cheat death and now, a prime seat at the best pub in the park? Maybe we should buy a lottery ticket!
On a fall trip to the North Rim in 2021, Johnny decides he’s going down the canyon at Kaibab Trail. Little did he realize he’d be spending the first few miles dodging mule dung and – wow! – That smell. Riding mules is a time-honored way to descend into the valley, but, wow, that smell stays with you.
Which is why I was surprised that he was so focused on trying one of the signature selection of mules served at the bar. Because he’s a bourbon drinker, he hopped right on the Kentucky Mule. It was everything he wanted: bright and citrusy that plays well with that sharp edge of ginger. The smoky character of the brown liquor is not lost in this blend. only hitch? It was served in a Collins cup, not the traditional copper mug.
food menu Short and it seems almost every table around us is decked out with a pile of golden truffle fries or a roast pork sandwich. We went with the classic shrimp cocktail and it was spot on, if a little on the lean side at only four pieces.
Drinks and snacks aside, the atmosphere in the cozy space was warm and friendly and the view of the valley was postcard perfect. During the warm weather months, an outdoor patio is where you’ll want to hang. But on that cold day, El Tovar’s Lounge was especially lovely.