Lookout Studio is located immediately east of Kolb Studio, right on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in the heart of Grand Canyon Village. The building itself is a remarkable piece of work. Colter designed Lookout Studio to resemble the ruins of an ancient Puebloan dwelling. As a result, the jagged, irregular rocks that make up the exterior façade of the building seem almost to be a natural part of the rim-side landscape. Inside visitors will encounter multiple windows providing several different vantage points of the Grand Canyon, as well as a gift shop selling art prints and other souvenirs.
Lookout Studio History and Background
One could make the make the argument that few individuals have shaped visitors’ experiences at Grand Canyon National Park as significantly as Mary Colter. Colter is the acclaimed architect responsible for such landmark structures as Hopi House, Hermits Rest, Desert View Watchtower, Bright Angel Lodge, Phantom Ranch, and Lookout Studio itself. Lookout Studio was commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway to serve as a place for Grand Canyon visitors to rest after a hiking excursion. It was intended to be an observation station offering glorious views of the Canyon, and it more or less serves the same function today.
Completed in 1914, Mary Colter’s design for the building sought—as many of her architectural plans in the region do—to create a structure that would mimic the dwellings of the indigenous Puebloan people and blend right into the rocky landscape of the South Rim. Lookout Studio achieved this effect and more. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and remains a favorite viewpoint for visitors to the Grand Canyon.
What’s at Lookout Studio
Today Lookout Studio contains a small gift shop, and serves primarily as an observation station for visitors to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The views from Lookout Studio are gorgeous in a number of directions. There is even a small terrace space near the front of the building where you can use an actual telescope to better observe the surrounding natural landscape.
In addition to the views available from Lookout Studio, of course, the real attraction is the building itself. Lookout Studio is more or less rectangular in shape. The inside floor plan of the structure is divided up into several different rooms/levels, each or which provides a distinct view of the Grand Canyon. The numerous windows offer not only access to tremendous views, but they let in plentiful light, which shines strikingly on the exposed stone walls and structural woodwork that helps support the building.
Anything and everything you could possibly require while visiting Grand Canyon National Park is available in the immediate vicinity of Lookout Studio. Given its location at the heart of Grand Canyon Village, Lookout Studio presents you with a number of dining options, restroom facilities, picnic areas, gift shops, and parking lots. Wi-Fi is available here (for a fee), too, and there are even ATMs to be found nearby. Some of the Park’s favorite lodging accommodations are just down the road as well, including Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, Thunderbird Lodge, and Maswik Lodge. While in this part of the Park, you can even take some time to tour other beloved local attractions such as Kolb Studio, the Grand Canyon Train Depot, and Hopi House.
Tips for Visiting Lookout Studio
- Lookout Studio is yet another glorious spot along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where you are absolutely going to want to have your camera ready. The views from here are stunning!
- Likewise, the way in which Lookout Studio blends into the natural terrain of its surroundings is remarkable—so remarkable, in fact, that you will likely want an actual photograph of Lookout Studio itself. In order to best position yourself for this memorable snapshot, it is best to follow the Rim Trail to the east, until you are in a good spot. This walk is a short, pleasant one—and the views the whole way are breathtaking.
- The telescopes available for public use at Lookout Studio tend to be coin-operated, so make certain to toss some change in your pockets before visiting this site.
- If you can tear your eyes away from the spectacle of the Grand Canyon below, try and make some time to look skyward, too, as Lookout Studio is one of the best spots along the South Rim to catch a glimpse of the rare and often-elusive California Condor. These very endangered birds—the largest in all of North America—call the area around Lookout Studio home.