Rainbow Lodge and Navajo Trading Post

The Rainbow Lodge and Navajo Trading Post were built in 1924 by S.I. Richardson and his son Cecil.

Rainbow Lodge and Navajo Trading Post

Photo of Rainbow Lodge and Navajo Trading Post 1950

A second post, a tent operation located near War God Springs, was operated on the other side of the mountain by Ben and Myri Wetherill.

The Richardson brothers came to the Southwest to escape the harsh life imposed on them by their fundamentalist father.

After working with relatives in the trading post business, the brothers took a pack trip from Kaibito to the bridge. It was this trip that inspired them to start a guide and trading post business on the southern slope of Navajo Mountain.

Their plan included construction of a road from Tonalea, Arizona to their new Rainbow Lodge and Trading Post at Willow Springs.

Hubert Richardson sold his interest in the lodge to Barry Goldwater, future Arizona Senator and presidential candidate.

World War II handicapped business at the lodge. Very little recreational travel took place during the war, and remote locations like Rainbow Lodge were hit the hardest. But Goldwater loved the country around Rainbow Bridge.

He had bought into the Richardson operation in the 1930s as a partner and in 1946, after the conclusion of the war, decided he wanted to have a go at running a successful tourist operation.

The lodge did little business during the war, with the Wilsons leaving Navajo Mountain for a brief time to secure employment elsewhere. The lodge was virtually unused for nearly five years.

With wartime fuel restrictions lifted by 1946, people began touring the Southwest again. Goldwater had guessed well regarding post-war tourism. In 1923, annual visitation to the bridge was only 142 people.

After 1945, visitation went up every year, reaching a high of 1,081 in 1955. Goldwater secured the promise of the Park Service to distribute Rainbow Lodge pamphlets to all persons inquiring about services at Rainbow Bridge.

In high hopes of success, Goldwater sent 1,500 pamphlets to the Park Service’s information office. Unfortunately the lodge burned to the ground in August 1951, leaving nothing but high hopes.