The Painted Desert Inn was the vision of Herbert Lore, a local homesteader. He constructed the two-story Inn on a high perch overlooking the Painted Desert by 1924. The Inn was nicknamed the "Stone Tree House" because so much petrified wood was used in its construction, a tangible tie to the landscape.
For almost twelve years, Lore operated the Inn as a tourist attraction. Visitors could eat meals in the lunchroom, purchase Native American arts and crafts, and enjoy a cool drink in the downstairs taproom. Rooms were available for $2-4 dollars per night. Lore also gave 2-hour motor car tours through the Black Forest in the Painted Desert below.
The inn was an isolated oasis in the Painted Desert. Without connections to electrical lines, an onsite lighting-plant was built to supply electricity. Water was hauled from Adamana, 10-miles south on the Puerco River.