Grand Canyon Village

Rim Trail

The Rim Trail in winter

The Rim Trail in winter
 
A paved, accessible section of the Rim Trail runs from Bright Angel Lodge at the west end of the village to Yavapai Point. The Rim Trail then continues east to Mather Point and Pipe Creek View. Starting from either Bright Angel Lodge or El Tovar Hotel, the Rim Trail provides continuously changing views into Garden Creek Canyon and Pipe Creek.
 
Map of Grand Canyon Village

Bright Angel Lodge

Entrance to Bright Angel Lodge

Entrance to Bright Angel Lodge

This rustic lodge, built of timber and native stone, was designed by architect Mary Colter and opened in 1935. Her intention, under the direction of the Santa Fe Railroad, was to create a hotel that would be a lower cost alternative to El Tovar Hotel. Colter's signature as an architect was to incorporate local flavor into her buildings. Bucky O'Neill Cabin was one of the first buildings in Grand Canyon Village, and Mary Colter not only preserved the cabin but incorporated its design into the design of Bright Angel Lodge. Another historic structure that she preserved and used for inspiration is the Red Horse Station, which was used as the post office for many years. Both buildings are still in use today.

Bright Angel Lodge is located west of El Tovar just a few feet from the South Rim and the Bright Angel Trailhead. See Lodging and Restaurants for lodging and dining information.

Kolb Studio

Kolb Studio after a winter storm

This historic structure, perched just below the South Rim, was the home and studio of the Kolb brothers, early photographers and cinematographers of the Grand Canyon. Completely restored, the studio now houses a bookstore and a free Grand Canyon art exhibit.

Emory and Ellsworth Kolb arrived at the South Rim just after the turn of the 20th century. By 1903, they were operating a photographic studio near the head of the Bright Angel Trail. They took pictures of mule parties on the trail, developed them in a makeshift darkroom in a cave, and sold the prints to the tourists. In 1904 they built a two-story studio on a rock shelf blasted out of the Kaibab limestone just below the rim.

In 1912 the brothers ran the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and made the first movie of a Grand Canyon river trip. After a national promotional tour, they returned to the Grand Canyon and added a three-story annex to the studio for living quarters and a gallery. The brothers began showing the movie in 1915. After Ellsworth's death, Emory Kolb continued to run the movie every day until his own death in 1976.

Lookout Studio

Lookout Studio

Lookout Studio

Designed by Mary Colter and built by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1914 for the purpose of competing with Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio is on the edge of the rim in front of Bright Angel Lodge. Colter employed her design philosophy of using local inspiration by constructing the building from native stone and giving it an irregular roof line so that it would blend into the rim. It now serves as a bookstore and has high-powered telescopes on the observation deck so that visitors can view the Grand Canyon in detail.

El Tovar Hotel

El Tovar Hotel

El Tovar Hotel

One of the Fred Harvey hotels built in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railroad, El Tovar is a classic log cabin style hotel and was built in 1905. It is located just a few feet from the South Rim. El Tovar was designed by Charles Whittlesey, the chief architect for the railroad. As the Santa Fe Railroad extended lines to western national parks, the railroad commissioned a series of hotels at the parks in order to ensure that rail travelers would have a world class hotel waiting for them. At the same time, the railroad wanted to preserve the unique American wilderness feel of the setting, so they designed the lodges in a particular rustic style that has become known as National Park Service Rustic. Although El Tovar has been remodeled and the guest rooms updated several times (most recently in 2008), the building still retains its rustic character.

As the premier place to stay at the Grand Canyon, the hotel has hosted many famous people over the years, including Ferdinand Foch, Gugliemo Marconi, George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Fiedler, and Presidents William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was so inspired by his visits to the Grand Canyon that he established Grand Canyon National Game Preserve and Grand Canyon National Monument by presidential proclamation, which led to the creation of the national park.

See Lodging and Restaurants for lodging and dining information.

Verkamps Visitor Center

Verkamps Visitor Center

Verkamps Visitor Center

This building, located next to El Tovar Hotel, was built in 1905 by John Verkamp and was operated as a curio shop until 2008. Verkamps was the most famous souvenir shop at the Grand Canyon and was a must-visit location for many park visitors. It is now a park visitor center and bookstore specializing in the pioneer history of Grand Canyon Village and the experience of living and working on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Verkamp first arrived at Grand Canyon Village in 1898 and began selling souvenirs from a tent. Business was slow and he moved to Flagstaff until the railroad reached the South Rim and tourism increased dramatically. Verkamp returned to the Grand Canyon and opened his curio business in his new building in 1906.

One of the reasons that Verkamps was so popular was the family tradition of service to the customer as well as their employees. Many of their items for sale were purchased from local artists, and employees were trained in the history and significance of the art work so they could pass that knowledge on to the store's customers.

The Verkamp family was also heavily involved in the Grand Canyon Village community. They helped develop Grand Canyon School and actively supported the Shrine of the Ages and the community library. They also supported the local Boy Scouts and helped found the local Rotary Club.

Yavapai Point

Yavapai Point looking east toward Wotans Throne and Vishnu Temple.

Yavapai Point looking east toward Wotans Throne and Vishnu Temple

Yavapai Point Webcam

Reachable by car, the Kaibab Shuttle, and the Rim Trail, Yavapai Point features views of Bright Angel Creek to the west and Pipe Creek to the east. Look for the patch of cottonwood trees and buildings along Garden Creek marking the ranger station and campground at Indian Garden along the Bright Angel Trail. A small museum and book store, Yavapai Observation Station offers exhibits explaining the fascinating geology of the Grand Canyon.

Yavapai Point features a Web cam and is an air quality monitoring station for the park. Visitors to national parks expect to see clear, unpolluted air, but unfortunately national parks do not exist under a sealed dome. They are part of the regional environment, which in the Southwest includes such nearby pollution sources as coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners area, various mining operations, and the large metropolitan areas of Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.

Part of the purpose of the national park air monitoring program is to determine the source of pollutants by studying the pollution particles in the air. The nature of the particles identifies the source, and this information is used by government agencies and private enterprise to reduce the amount of pollutants at their sources.

Within the park, the Park Service reduces pollution by operating an alternative fuel vehicle fleet for administrative purposes. The park also operates a free year-round shuttle bus system throughout the Grand Canyon Village area and to the Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point. Except in the winter, free shuttles also run along the Hermit Road and to Tusayan and the airport.

Mather Point

Mather Point

Mather Point

Accessible via a quarter-mile trail from Canyon View Information Plaza, Mather Point is the first view of the canyon for many visitors. The viewpoint itself is located at the tip of a spectacular fin of Kaibab limestone which projects out into the canyon. Mather Point is an excellent location for sunrise photos. Walk east along the paved Rim Trail to get a view of Mather Point and the sheer, sunlit cliffs below standing in sharp contrast to the early morning shadows of the canyon depths in the background.

To the east, you can see the upper portion of the South Kaibab Trail. The initial portion of the trail where it descends through the Kaibab limestone rim cliffs is hidden from view in a north facing alcove, but then the trail comes into view as it descends below Yaki Point along the sloping terrace eroded from the Toroweap formation. As the trail comes out onto the red slopes of the Hermit shale, it swings around the east side of O'Neill Butte and disappears from view.

Pipe Creek is visible below as well as a portion of the 72-mile long Tonto Trail winding along the greenish-gray shale slopes of the Tonto Plateau. This section of the Tonto Trail is in better shape and more visible from above because it has been used several times as part of the main rim to river route on the Bright Angel Trail. The original route of the Bright Angel Trail was down upper Garden Creek, along the Tonto Plateau across Pipe Creek, and then down to the Colorado River along what is now the lower South Kaibab Trail. After the River Trail was completed to connect lower Pipe Creek to the two footbridges across the Colorado River at the mouth of Bright Angel Creek and the foot of the main route again when the lower Bright Angel Trail in Pipe Creek was closed for reconstruction for several years.

The Plateau Point Trail is also visible leaving the green, spring-fed oasis of Indian Garden and heading out to a viewpoint just west of Garden Creek. Plateau Point is unusually flat for the Tonto plateau and part of the trail crosses a landing strip used August 8, 1922 by RV Thomas and Ellsworth Kolb to land a plane and take off again. Emory Kolb hiked down to the airstrip to photograph the event.

To the north, on the far side of Granite Gorge, you'll note Bright Angel Canyon. Phantom Ranch, the only resort at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and Bright Angel Campground are located at the mouth of Bright Angel Creek just above the Colorado River on the North Kaibab Trail. The trail continues most of the way up Bright Angel Creek before climbing up Roaring Springs Canyon to North Rim Village.

Pipe Creek Vista

Pipe Creek Vista

Pipe Creek Vista

This viewpoint looks down onto Pipe Creek, the major canyon between the Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail and can be reached by car from the Desert View Drive or via the Kaibab Trail Shuttle. Pick up the Kaibab Trail Shuttle at the Canyon View Information Plaza. This is also the eastern trailhead for the Rim Trail, which runs west from Pipe Creek Vista past Mather Point to Grand Canyon Village and on to Hermits Rest.

Yaki Point

Yaki Point

Yaki Point

Use the Kaibab Trail Shuttle to reach this viewpoint overlooking the Kaibab Trail descending past red O'Neill Butte. Since private cars are not allowed, Yaki Point is a quiet place to watch the sunrise or sunset.

The view includes much of the upper South Kaibab Trail. Some visitors wonder why this popular trail was located four miles east of Grand Canyon Village. The answer is that it was built by the Park Service as an alternate route to the Bright Angel Trail, which was under private ownership in 1919 when the national park was created.

O'Neill Butte is a major landmark along the Kaibab Trail. The red cliffs of the butte are carved from the upper sandstone layers of the Supai formation. The butte is named after Bucky O'Neill, a member of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

Cremation Canyon lies to the east of the Kaibab Trail and is one of the sites where the famous split-twig figurines of the Grand Canyon have been discovered. These ancient artifacts were made from a single twig split down the middle and folded into animal shapes. Willow was most often used due to the wood's flexibility. Dating from 2,000 to 4,000 years old, split-twig figurines are found in remote, undisturbed caves where they are protected from the weather. You can see some examples of these remarkable artifacts at the Tusayan Museum on Desert View Drive.