You’ll find roughly three shopping categories at the canyon (or four, if you count necessities like groceries and gear): inexpensive souvenirs, education-themed items, and art. Many of the canyon’s shops carry some of each, so unless you’re a retail maven, you can get all your shopping done in a couple of stops.
If you have time to browse only two stores, make one Hopi House , notable not just for its selection but also for its landmark architecture. If you make your other shopping stop at one of the Grand Canyon Association’s stores, you’ll have seen the cream of the canyon’s retail crop.
Grand Canyon’s rich history of traders includes the Fred Harvey Company and the pioneering Verkamp and Babbitt families. The Verkamps began selling curios from a tent along the rim in 1905, and when Verkamp’s Curios closed in 2008, it ended the longest family-operated concession in the national parks.
The Babbitts, ranchers and Indian traders, arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1886 and operated the general stores at Grand Canyon until 1999. (Descendant Bruce Babbitt acted as Arizona’s governor 1978-1987, ran for president in 1988, and served as former president Clinton’s Secretary of the Interior.)
The Fred Harvey Company (acquired by Xanterra Parks & Resorts in 1968) opened Hopi House in 1905 and continues to operate it and half a dozen other gift shops at the South Rim.
Fred Harvey Company stores (303/338-6070, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily) at Bright Angel, Maswik, and Yavapai Lodges carry similar inventories of postcards, posters, T-shirts, hats, videos, music, jewelry, and more. The broad selection ranges from inexpensive souvenirs to well-made Native American jewelry, sand paintings, and tapestries. The gift shops clearly label American-made merchandise, but if you’re unsure, ask.
At Maswik Lodge, you’ll also find some display cases of old pawn, pieces of Indian jewelry that have gone unredeemed. Also known as “dead pawn,” these vintage items are often highly collectible, especially since several of the Southwest’s historic turquoise mines have been depleted, and jewelry may be set with stone types no longer available today.
El Tovar has the ritziest accommodations at the canyon, and the lobby gift shop (7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily) caters to tonier tastes. Look here for quality Southwestern-style clothing, lavishly illustrated cookbooks or coffee-table books, and fine Native American jewelry.
Mary Colter’s imaginative architectural creations are attractions themselves, designed to entice travelers to Grand Canyon in the days when railroads competed heavily for passenger traffic. Built in 1914, Lookout Studio (8 a.m.-sunset daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter) offers a wide selection of rocks and fossils to please the kiddos but continues its historic focus on photography with postcards, posters, and photographic prints.
Another 1914 Colter building, Hermits Rest (8 a.m.-sunset daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter) has just enough room for a little bit of everything—but somehow the smaller selection, artfully arranged, looks more tempting here than in any of the lodge shops.
Mary Colter designed her first Grand Canyon building, Hopi House (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter), to showcase native cultures and their traditions. You’ll find the usual T-shirts, books, and gifts downstairs, but the upstairs gallery in Hopi House boasts a selection of Native American arts and crafts that is unmatched anywhere else at Grand Canyon. A narrow staircase leads to the second level, where museum-quality work by some of the leading artisans from Hopi, Navajo, and other regional cultures is displayed. Occasionally, weavers demonstrate their craft here, just as Mary Colter had envisioned over 100 years ago.
The Desert View Trading Post and Watchtower (8 a.m.-sunset daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter) both have wide selections. In the Watchtower, which Mary Colter modeled after prehistoric structures, the gift shop emphasizes the Native American theme with musical selections by Indian performers, traditional crafts, and silver jewelry.
The Fred Harvey Company also operates two stores in Tusayan, the Grand Canyon Trading Post (828/638-2417, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily) and the Grand Canyon Airport gift shop (9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily).
The Grand Canyon Association (GCA, www.grandcanyon.org ) manages stores that do double duty as information centers at Grand Canyon Visitors Center, Kolb Studio, Verkamp’s, Yavapai Observation Station, Tusayan Museum, and the Desert View Visitors Center and Bookstore. Locations are staffed by canyon-savvy GCA employees and often park rangers as well.
A nonprofit organization founded in 1932, the GCA uses money from sales to support national park programs and publications. GCA members receive a 15 percent discount at the organization’s shops at the canyon or online. If you’re looking for maps, such as the famous “Blue Dragon” map of the canyon’s geology, books on natural or cultural history, or educational items for kids, the selection at GCA stores is superb.
Books & More (8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily summer, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter), the GCA store at Grand Canyon Visitors Center, is the largest gift shop on the South Rim. GCA also stocks a small selection of books and gifts inside the General Store at Market Plaza.
Currently operated by Delaware North Companies, the General Store at Market Plaza (928/638-2262, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter) continues to be a canyon mainstay. If you need some serious outdoor gear, such as crampons or a camp stove, you’ll find it here, along with groceries, sundries, and souvenirs. The General Store rents camping and backpacking equipment, an ideal solution for those who don’t feel like carrying gear on the plane.
Delaware North also operates the smaller Desert View Marketplace (928/638-2393, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily summer, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily winter) 30 miles east of the village near the park’s East Entrance.