The evening after I toured Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments, I stayed in a little town on US 89 known as Cameron.
Cameron, Arizona is a Navajo Nation tribal town and trading post located just north of the junction of US Highway 89 and Arizona 64 which goes to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The Cameron Trading Post and motel have been around since 1916. The property consists of the gift shop, a wonderful and historic restaurant as well as a beautiful motel. Across Highway 89 is a newer RV park as well. There is a pedestrian tunnel under US 89 that connects the RV park to the rest of the property. The facility sits on the south side of the Little Colorado River adjacent to the historic Tanner’s Crossing Bridge – an old cable suspension bridge.
I found the motel and restaurant accidentally in 2008 while on a trip from my home in Utah to Scottsdale, Arizona. I have never forgotten the hospitality of the people, the nice rooms and the wonderful, home cooked food.
The Navajo Nation, like many other native peoples in the United States was hit extremely hard with COVID-19. So, the place had barely reopened after many months. Masks were mandatory on the entire property except in your room or at the dining tables in the restaurant. Interestingly due to the Navajo’s super strict protocols, I felt safer here than anywhere else on my journey.
Being early June, I expected the place to be jammed at the beginning of summer tourist season. But it was not very busy. The restaurant and gift shop were limiting traffic, however. Perhaps that was one reason why the place wasn’t overly busy. Or maybe the tourist season was just not in full swing yet.
When I got to my second floor room in a newer wing of the motel, I was stunned. This was by far the nicest place I stayed on my entire Route 66 trip. The room was absolutely gorgeous with heavy wooden furniture and native decor.
The hotel has large, beautiful gardens in front of most of the rooms adding to a very peaceful, natural aura. The stone architecture blends in beautifully with the nearby red rock.
The place is very quiet, located just far enough off of the road to muffle most of the road noise. And the restaurant’s main dining hall looks out on the canyon created by the Little Colorado River.
The restaurant offers a full menu and features local cuisine such as prickly pear sauce on ribs and blue corn pancakes for breakfast. I had those prickly pear sauce pork ribs for my dinner, and they were wonderful. The ribs were really tender, and super tasty. Everything was very fresh. The service was top notch. My waitress was really attentive and friendly, and we ended up chatting about the COVID situation and how it affected her job and family.
The next morning I got up before sunrise to catch that beautiful morning light in the canyon. And then I had breakfast at the restaurant – those blue corn pancakes. Oh my! They were so good! I can’t even describe how tasty they were.
However, as beautiful as the motel is, as wonderful as the restaurant is, and as kind as the people at the Cameron complex are, there is a very dark side to this place. Many of the nearby homes on the Navajo reservation have no running water. That’s right. In the United States of America, the most wealthy nation of Earth, many of our indigenous people have no running water and some have no electricity!
These people were decimated by COVID due to the lack of running water and accompanying sanitation. This is unconscionable. These are some of the nicest, most kind people I met on my journey, And they deserve better, much better.
If you get a chance to visit this area, please stop in. Stay at the motel, and eat in the restaurant. Your dollars will help these folks have better lives. They deserve more, and when you meet these wonderful folks, you will agree. I know I will be returning here before too long. There’s more places to explore, and well the place is just wonderfully homey and comfortable.
My Route 66 journey is nearing it’s end. I was on the road only one more evening, back in Kanab, Utah. The next installment will be about the next leg of my journey, the drive along US 89-A through the base of the Vermilion Cliffs.
Hopefully this post has brought you enjoyment and peaked your interest in visiting this part of northern Arizona.
Stay safe out there, have fun blogging, and thank you for visiting my page.