Place

Verkamp's Visitor Center

Lights glow in the windows of a two-story historic brown building displaying the name
Once a privately-owned business, historic Verkamp's is now a visitor center and park store.

NPS photo by Michael Quinn

Quick Facts

Audio Description, Automated External Defibrillator (AED), Benches/Seating, Fire Extinguisher, First Aid Kit Available, Gifts/Souvenirs/Books, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Information, Information - Maps Available, Information - Ranger/Staff Member Present, Parking - Auto, Picnic Table, Restroom, Restroom - Accessible, Trash Dumpster, Trash/Litter Receptacles, Water - Bottle-Filling Station, Water - Drinking/Potable, Wheelchair Accessible

Verkamp's Visitor Center features interpretive exhibits that tell the story of Grand Canyon Village, a Grand Canyon Conservancy Park Store, an information desk staffed by Grand Canyon Conservancy staff, and, during the summer, park ranger-led activities.

A water filling station is located outside of the building next to the canyon rim, and a public restroom is available behind the Visitor Center.

Hours of Operation

Open daily.

Winter 2021: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Summer: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Spring and Fall: 8:00 am - 7:00 pm

History

John Verkamp moved to northern Arizona from Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898, and soon made his way to the South Rim of Grand Canyon in order to open a general store and souvenir shop on behalf of the Babbitt chain of mercantile stores. A lack of sufficient business to turn a profit forced him to close his shop, which was initially a simple canvas tent, in a matter of weeks. Following the arrival of the railroad in 1901 and the construction of the El Tovar Hotel, which opened in 1905, Verkamp decided to try again. This time, he hired El Tovar Hotel architect Charles F. Whittlesey to design a more permanent structure. Construction began in 1905, and Verkamp's Curio Shop opened for business the following year, making it one of the oldest buildings in the park. As an independent family-owned business, the store played an important role in the development of Grand Canyon Village, selling mercantile goods and necessities to locals and traveler alike, as well as souvenir arts and crafts such as blankets, jewelry, and baskets made by local Native American artisans.

Verkamp's Store survived the Great Depression, during which the family moved to the residence in the upper floor of the building, and it was managed by Mr. Verkamp until his death in 1944. His family, who continued to live in the upper floor residence until 1978, maintained business operations until the fall of 2008, when the National Park Service purchased the building and soon reopened it as a visitor center in November of that same year. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1906, during its centennial year.

The Verkamp family built their business on service to their guests, employees, and to their community. Goods were bought from some of the same Native American artisans for 25-50 years. Based upon the belief that an informed guest was a pleased buyer, all employees received training on how to explain the history and meaning of all the items they sold.

For decades, the Verkamp family was involved in the South Rim community. Instrumental in developing the Grand Canyon School, which still operates today, they continued to offer their committed support throughout the community. John Verkamp was a charter member of the Grand Canyon Rotary Club, and his family also provided assistance to the Community Library, the Shrine of the Ages, and the Boy Scouts of America.

Last updated: February 13, 2021