Mormon Lake Lodge | Mormon Lake | Coconino National Forest | Zane Grey

History of Mormon Lake Lodge

Just 30 minutes outside of Flagstaff, AZ, there are decades worth of history ready for discovery. Mormon Lake Lodge, formerly Tombler’s Lodge, was built in 1924 by a man from Chandler, during the height of logging and ranching. The lodge became a place for friends and families to relax and enjoy the nearby nature. The adjoining saloon also made for the perfect place to listen to music and unwind after a long day.

In 1974, Mormon Lake Lodge fell victim to an electrical fire from a faulty heater during the Verde Valley Sheriff’s Posse for the world’s largest jackpot team-roping contest. The beloved guests of the lodge were devastated, but they knew with a little help, the lodge could be restored to its former glory.

With the help of the local ranchers and volunteers across the state, Mormon Lake Lodge was rebuilt by Labor Day weekend for guests to enjoy – and in time for the next roping contest. After the lodge was rebuilt, the local ranchers burned their branding irons into the walls as a symbol of protection. To this day, guests can see the brands that protect the lodge.

Mormon Lake History

Mormon Lake is one of only two natural lakes in Arizona, maintaining its water levels solely from rainfall and snowmelt from the nearby mountains. In the early 1900s, the lake had a surface area of 12 square miles. Many visitors enjoyed the popular recreation area for boating and sport fishing. From 1941 to 1947, the lake receded and became dry for the first time in the 20th century. This drought lasted up until 1978 when the area received greater precipitation. Since 1995, severe droughts, a rise in temperatures causing increased evaporation, has resulted in the lake’s water level to recede and become shallow and dry.

Even though Mormon Lake is currently dry, there are other activities to enjoy such as horseback riding, hiking trails and an abundance of elk, deer, birds and other amazing wildlife to see.

History of Coconino National Forest

Located in northern Arizona, the Coconino National Forest was first established in 1898, and later became federally protected in 1908. The Coconino National Forest expands for 1.8 million acres across northern Arizona, near Flagstaff.

Coconino National Forest is home to a diverse ecosystem. The terrain ranges from deserts to snowy alpine to ancient volcanic peaks. Currently, it stands as one of the largest continuous stands of ponderosa pine in the United States.

Inside Coconino National Forest, guests will find the largest natural lake in Arizona, Mormon Lake. When rainfall is abundant and droughts are sparse, Mormon Lake, is filled with fish and plenty of water. Unfortunately, for the past several years, the drought has caused the lake to dry up and has been in a dry state since. Even with the lake drying, there are still an abundance of activities to enjoy such as horseback riding, hiking trails and wildlife viewing.

Within the national forest, there are several points of interest for visitors. Guests can visit four nearby archaeological sites: Elden Pueblo Archaeological Site, Palatki Heritage Site, V Bar V Heritage Site, and the Honanki Heritage Site. There are also three neighboring national monuments for guests to visit: Walnut Canyon, Wupatki, and Montezuma’s Castle. Learn more from the Forest Service https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/coconino/learning/history-culture

Zane Grey Museum and History

Zane Grey was born Pearl Zane Gray on January 31, 1872 in Zanesville, Ohio. He later dropped his first name and changed the spelling of his last name to “Grey”. Grey lived an adventurous life as an outdoorsman, athlete, world traveler and writer.

In his early years, Grey developed interests in baseball, fishing and writing. During high school, he worked part-time in his father’s dental practice and also played summer baseball. After being noticed by a scout, Grey received a baseball scholarship and attended the University of Pennsylvania, studying dentistry, graduating in 1896 and opened a dental practice in New York City -staying close to publishers. In the evenings, he would spend his time writing. On a camping trip with his brother, Grey met Lina “Dolly” Roth who later became his wife in 1905. Dolly was very encouraging and supportive of his writing. It wasn’t too long after that Grey gave up his dental practice to pursue his writing career.

Grey was best known for his adventure and American West novels, writing nearly 90 books and stories, with 24 of these books that were set in Arizona.

Zane Grey spent a great amount of time in Arizona. Mormon Lake was a favorite camping spot. He would often camp at Mormon Lake on his way back to his cabin under the Mogollon Rim.

The Zane Grey Museum at Mormon Lake Lodge features an array of Zane Grey books, paintings, photographs, movie posters and other memorabilia. Many on display were owned or used by Zane Grey.