Kolb Studio occupies an important place in the history of the modern commercial development of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Constructed by two brothers, Emery and Ellsworth Kolb, to serve as both their place of residence and their professional photography studio, Kolb Studio still stands today as a monument to early twentieth-century settlers’ visions for the Grand Canyon area. Visitors to the studio today can tour the house, peruse a number of exhibits highlighting local art and history, and/or just stroll the lovely grounds of this iconic building.
Kolb Studio History and Background
Kolb Studio is one of the oldest remaining structures found along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In 1902, brothers Emery and Ellsworth Kolb moved from their homes in Pennsylvania to seek a new life in Arizona. By 1904 they had constructed for themselves a home right on the edge of the Grand Canyon, near the trailhead to Bright Angel Trail. The years to come would see the two men fight through a series of setbacks and a great deal of adversity to establish one of the Grand Canyon’s most successful and enduring tourist attractions. Their photographs and films would become the stuff of legend, cementing their status as National Park pioneers.
Emery Kolb died in 1976, at which point the National Park Service was able to purchase Kolb Studio. Over the next few decades the building was restored, renovated, and ultimately transformed into the multifaceted event space that it is today. It remains an important landmark for visitors to Grand Canyon National Park—just as it has been for over 100 years now.
What’s at Kolb Studio
As one of the oldest and most unique buildings found near Grand Canyon Village, Kolb Studio is an important structure in the history of Grand Canyon National Park. The studio—built, expanded, and redesigned a number of times over the past 100+ years—is itself an important historical document, telling as it does one story of the development of the Grand Canyon as a tourist destination for visitors from all over the world.
Run today by the Grand Canyon Association, Kolb Studio contains a bookstore and an art gallery, as well as several informative displays documenting the Kolb Brothers’ role in the history of Grand Canyon National Park. Kolb Studio also hosts a variety of art and history exhibits throughout the year. These popular exhibits often feature retrospectives of the Kolb Brothers’ many films and photographs of the people and places of the Grand Canyon area.
Nearby you will find some of the most extensive amenities available along the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, as Kolb Studio is located near the western edge of Grand Canyon Village. Numerous accommodations are to be found just a few steps away, including such famous lodging options as El Tovar Hotel, Bright Angel Lodge, and Thunderbird Lodge. Parking here is free, and there are a variety of places to dine and/or picnic. Other sites worth possibly checking out in Grand Canyon Village include Hopi House, Lookout Studio, and of course, the ever-popular Grand Canyon Train Depot.
Tips for Visiting Kolb Studio
- Kolb Studio’s hours of operation vary seasonally. Make sure to check the relevant Kolb Studio webpage on the National Park Service website in advance of your visit, for the most current information.
- The art and history exhibits that Kolb Studio hosts throughout the year rotate consistently, so you will want to research what shows are actually being hosted there ahead of your visit, in order to have the most up-to-date details.
- If you find yourself falling in love with Kolb Studio or just plain fascinated by the life and work of the Kolb brothers, you might be interested to know that an archive containing a great number of their films and photographs is housed at Northern Arizona University. This archive is open to the public, and is a quite popular attraction in its own right.
- Bright Angel Trail begins just to the west of Kolb Studio. This means you can stop at Kolb Studio first, to read up on the long, storied history of visitors to the Grand Canyon exploring it by way of Bright Angel Trail, before recreating that history yourself!