The first time I saw the San Juan Inn I had driven across Arizona's Painted Desert to Monument Valley. At one point, while in the Monument Valley zone, I saw a view that seemed instantly familiar. I stopped my van and got out the van's manual. The picture on the cover of the manual was the scene I was looking at live.
That same scene is the Durango Roadtripping image that I've now made into the logo of this blog.
After driving through Monument Valley the destination was Moab. It was New Year's Eve. Christmas had been spent at Disneyland. A few days after that it was Las Vegas, then Grand Canyon, with snow on the ground.
Leaving Monument Valley, heading north towards Moab, on Highway 163, soon after you leave the Navajo Nation there is a curve in the road, then the bridge and river you see in the picture come into view. And across the bridge on the other side of the San Juan River sits the San Juan Inn, nestled up against a redrock cliff. In that middle of winter, New Year's Eve light, the San Juan Inn looked very cool. I've always had a thing for redrock. It just makes me feel good. I've no idea why.
Even though it looked inviting, I drove on, later wondering why it did not occur to me to stay there for the night. It would be years before I finally got that chance. Both times that I've houseboated on Lake Powell, the day we get off the houseboat we head towards Mexican Hat and the San Juan Inn. Maybe it has something to do with having a nice bed after days on a houseboat makes me remember it so fondly.
The San Juan Inn has a restaurant called The Olde Bridge Grille. When I've been there it's run by a Navajo mom and daughter. And ran very well. They are very friendly. The daughter taught me some Navajo words that I've forgotten. I had several Navajo tacos during my stay. Among other things. The San Juan Inn also has a well-stocked Trading Post. Our first night there we sat on the balcony watching a lightning storm in the distance. A lightning storm in the high desert is an awesome thing to see.
An interesting little tidbit from the San Juan Inn's website...
We have the only Utah State restaurant liquor license within 100 miles in every direction. If you are dining you may choose from our wine, liquor or beer list to compliment your meal.
That should give you an idea of what an isolated location this is, which is part of the attraction, to me.