Rim Guides, The Grand Canyon

Exploring the Grand Canyon Village

The Grand Canyon Village is more than just a hotspot for curious adventurers seeking a glimpse of one of the world’s most impressive geological marvels! Located on the South Rim within the Grand Canyon National Park, the Grand Canyon Village is the largest Park Service town in the National Park system.

2,000 year-round residents call the 13.4 square mile village home, but it’s not officially a “village” at all. According to the United States Census Bureau, the Grand Canyon Village is a “census designated place” (CDP), which is a concentration of population defined by the Census Bureau purely for statistical purposes.

While the Grand Canyon Village may not officially be a village, it does contain many of the Grand Canyon’s most iconic buildings and structures – so many that its core is actually a National History Landmark District. Check out our list of sights you can’t miss when you visit the Grand Canyon Village:

Hopi House

hopi house grand canyon national park
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr.

Hopi House is one of the many buildings on the Rim designed by early 20th century architect Mary Colter. Built in 1904 as a market for Native American crafts created by primarily local Hopi artisans, Mary Colter designed this adobe-style building based on her interpretation of a Hopi dwelling she saw at Oraibi, AZ. For many early Grand Canyon visitors, Hopi House was their first experience of Native American architecture and culture.

Be sure to check out: The local handmade artefacts and souvenirs available for purchase. Hopi House still operates as a market for local artisans!

Bright Angel Lodge

bright angel lodge grand canyon national park
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr.

Also designed by Mary Colter, Bright Angel Lodge was the first place of accommodation on the Rim available to early Grand Canyon visitors. Consisting of a main lodge surrounded by several cabins, Bright Angel Lodge’s unique architectural style features many locally inspired elements, such as the fireplace in the main lobby.

Situated at the top of the Bright Angel Trail Head, the Lodge also contains a popular family-style restaurant. It still operates as a place of lodging, but be sure to book your stay early – rooms and cabins can book up to a year in advance.

Be sure to check out: The fireplace in the main lobby. It showcases the entire geological history of the Grand Canyon, including samples from every rock layer from the Rim to the Canyon floor!

Explore Bright Angel Lodge on our Grand Canyon South Rim Deluxe Air & Ground Tour.

El Tovar Hotel

el tovar hotel grand canyon national park
Image Source: Don Graham via Wikimedia Commons.

El Tovar Hotel opened in 1905, and was initially owned and operated in conjunction with what is now part of the Grand Canyon Railway.

With the goal of appealing to the tastes of the early 20th century elite, designer Charles Whittlesey envisioned El Tovar as a cross between a Swiss chalet and a Norwegian villa. Whittlesey, along with his colleagues at the Santa Fe Railway (the precursor to the Grand Canyon Railway) and the Fred Harvey Company of hoteliers, built El Tovar as a “destination resort”, and hoped to provide comfort and luxury on the edge of America’s most stunning wilderness.

El Tovar remains one of the most luxurious places to stay on the Rim, but like Bright Angel Lodge, it’s often fully booked up to a year in advance.

Be sure to check out: The El Tovar Dining Room—it’s one of the best restaurants on the Rim, serving a number of gourmet local specialties.

Kolb Studio

kolb studio grand canyon national park
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park via Flickr.

Built in 1905 and located at the head of the Bright Angel Trail, the Kolb Studio was originally the home and photographic studio of brothers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb.

The Kolb Studio was one of the earliest commercial businesses at the Grand Canyon. What was for sale at this rustic domicile? Photos of tourists venturing into the Canyon on mule back. Thanks to their enterprising attitude, the Kolb brothers are responsible for documenting many of the earliest expeditions into the Grand Canyon.

Be sure to check out: The art gallery and book store. All proceeds from merchandise sales at the Kolb Studio are used to support and maintain the building.

Lookout Studio

lookout studio grand canyon national park south rim view points
Image Source: Grand Canyon National Park via Wikimedia Commons.

The Santa Fe Railway hired Mary Colter to build famous Lookout Studio in 1914, with the goal of rivalling the Kolb Studio just a few hundred feet further along the Rim. In fact, Lookout Studio was strategically positioned on the Rim path to create a bottleneck that would slow down and distract visitors from ever reaching the Kolb Studio at all. Ouch.

The Studio currently operates as a gift shop and observation station.

Be sure to check out: The Studio’s architectural style. Colter’s design mimics 12th century southwestern Native American construction styles, and employs her signature style of using native rocks to imitate indigenous structures that appear to blend in with the Rim.

It Takes a Village

The Grand Canyon Village contains much more than these iconic buildings. As you explore the winding Rim path and the many historic landmarks along the way, keep your eyes open for ranger demonstrations, wildlife, and some seriously impressive views of the Grand Canyon.


About Ria Borja

Ria is a Customer Experience Manager at Canyon Tours and an avid lover of the outdoors. When she isn't helping other travelers check destinations and dream vacations off their bucket lists, she's busy exploring the Southwest. Her favorite place to visit is (unsurprisingly!) the Grand Canyon.