While the Grand Canyon itself is defined by its awe-inspiring natural splendor, Grand Canyon Village is a centerpiece for the region’s history and a living testament to the area’s pioneer days.
Grand Canyon Village
Situated in Grand Canyon National Park, the village is the center of activity and the transportation hub of the South Rim. It serves as only place where the railroad reaches the canyon’s rim.
Grand Canyon Village was brought to life in 1901 when the railroad completed from Williams, Arizona to the canyon’s South Rim by the Santa Fe Railroad. Many of the buildings that dot the village today were erected then. Grand Canyon Village features an array of historic landmarks, and the village itself was named a National Historic Landmark District.
Village Route Shuttle
Getting around the village is simple, thanks to the free Village Route shuttle, which links connects lodging facilities, the campground, restaurants and shops with Market Plaza and the Visitor Center.
The historic district is the heart of development on the South Rim, and a must-see for enthusiasts who embrace early 20th century architecture in the west.
Legendary architect Mary Colter, who was born in 1869, designed six of these structures – the Hopi House (1905), Hermit’s Rest (1914), Lookout Studio (1914), the 70-foot Desert View Watchtower (1932) and the Bright Angel Lodge (1935).
Colter created Hopi House to serve as a living museum where Hopi Indians could reside while making and selling traditional crafts. The building was inspired by her interpretation of the Hopi dwelling in Oraibi, Arizona.
Lookout Studio is housed in a stone building and constructed in 1914 by the Santa Fe Railway as a photography studio to compete with the Kolb brothers. Lookout Studio operates as a gift shop and an observation station for visitors, featuring high-powered telescopes on its outdoor terrace.
Kolb Studio, which clings to the edge of the Grand Canyon, is another intriguing building at grand Canyon Village. Brothers Ellsworth and Emery Kolb founded the photography studio in 1903 at the Bright Angel trailhead and gained their notoriety as the first men to make a motion picture of the Colorado River amid its entire course through the Grand Canyon.
Today, historic Kolb Studio is open year-round. It features an exhibit venue, bookstore, and information center operated by the Grand Canyon Association, a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from sales at the bookstore are used for the continuing restoration and care of the building. Fully remodeled in 2004 for the Kolb Studio Centennial, the bookstore now contains a tribute to the Kolbs’ photography of mule riders at the Grand Canyon.
The Train Depot is an ideal stop at the village, too. Many visitors embark on one of the walking tours. Trains arrive at the Grand Canyon Depot at least once a day. Across the street from the depot marks the beginning of a segment of the Greenway Trail.
This portion of the Greenway Trail leads walkers and bicyclists from Grand Canyon Village to Market Plaza. The Greenway offers a safer alternative for bicyclists than the heavily traveled narrow roads.
Market Plaza is Grand Canyon Village’s business center. The plaza hosts a general store and deli, a bank, post office, and a cafeteria at Yavapai Lodge. Since Market Plaza has a large parking lot and is centrally located, it is a convenient spot to park and use the park’s free shuttle system.
Located a mile east of Market Plaza, Yavapai Museum of Geology offers remarkable vistas of the canyon. Among the geological displays are three-dimensional models, inspirational photographs and interpretive panels which educate visitors about the complicated geologic story of the area. A Grand Canyon Association book store within the observation station is a destination for gifts.