This historic structure has been located a mere 100 feet from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1906. Verkamp’s Visitor Center takes its name from the Verkamp Family, who operated a concession stand and gift shop at this site until 2008. In 2008, the National Park Service took over control of the building, when the Verkamp Family retired from the business. For the past decade, run by the National Park Service, Verkamp’s Visitor Center has functioned as a visitor information station, a small museum, and a bookstore/gift shop.
Verkamps Visitor Center History and Background
The history of Verkamp’s Visitor Center dates all the way back to 1898. It was in that year John George Verkamp first moved from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio, to the grounds of the Bright Angel Lodge, where he pitched a tent and began selling souvenirs to visitors traveling along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In 1906, Verkamp constructed the building that still stands and bears his name today. The structure was built right on the edge of the Grand Canyon, in an architectural style unique to the South Rim. Unlike the design work of Mary Colter—the architect responsible for six prominent buildings throughout Grand Canyon National Park, including such sites as Hopi House, Lookout Studio, and Desert View Watchtower that blend in beautifully with their surroundings—Verkamp’s Visitor Center was built to stand out along the South Rim. Verkamp’s Visitor Center was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The Verkamp family ceased operating the facility in 2008; still, today the Visitor Center functions much as it has for 100 years, only under the control of the National Park Service.
What’s at Verkamps Visitor Center
The Verkamp’s Visitor Center serves several purposes today. It contains a terrific Information Desk where visitors can speak directly to an on-duty National Park Service ranger. These helpful individuals are on-standby during all operating hours at Verkamp’s Visitor Center, ready to answer any and all questions you may have during your visit to Grand Canyon National Park. There is also a bookstore—run by the Grand Canyon Association—located inside Verkamp’s Visitor Center. This small shop sells books related to Grand Canyon National Park, as well as a variety of small trinkets and souvenirs. Last but not least, here you will also find a series of interactive exhibits detailing the history of the Grand Canyon Community. Verkamp’s Visitor Center is located right on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, at the eastern edge of Grand Canyon Village. This means that every sort of amenity you could need while visiting Grand Canyon National Park is just steps away. Parking is available nearby, as well as multiple different dining and lodging options—local accommodations include Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and the historic El Tovar Hotel. Other popular attractions just down the road from Verkamp’s Visitor Center include Hopi House, Kolb Studio, Lookout Studio, and the Grand Canyon Train Depot.
Tips for Visiting Verkamps Visitor Center
- Verkamp’s Visitor Center is open seven days a week between the hours of 8:00am and 7:00pm.
- A variety of history walks—each one led by a National Park Service ranger—kick off from Verkamp’s Visitor Center. These guided walks run daily; however, make certain to check the schedule in advance so you don’t miss the specific walk you want to go on.
- Given its prime location along the South Rim, the parking lots closest to Verkamp’s Visitor Center can often fill-up in a hurry. As a result, you might want to consider taking the Village “Blue” Route shuttle to the Grand Canyon Train Depot stop. This shuttle ride is free, and it will let you off just a few steps away from the Visitor Center.