If you are entering The Grand Canyon from Cameron (or the East), take a few minutes to stop at the Desert View area. Not only will you get your first glimpse at the Canyon, you can enjoy the picturesque landscape to the East. I really like the mesa that sits directly East of the Desert View location. On a clear day you can also see the Echo cliffs to the Northeast and the Painted Desert. Make sure to check out the Little Colorado River Gorge on the way in to the park too.
The Desert View Tower was designed by Mary Colter and built in 1932. Colter tried to recreate a pre-historic American structure. There are murals inside painted by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie. At some point the National Park Service Rangers (a long time ago) used the vantage point of the tower to spot fires before they became too large to contain.
You will find a restaurant to grab a quick bite to eat and restrooms before you continue on your drive East out of the park or to the West for the next 25 miles until you reach the Grand Canyon Village. There are lots of curves during the drive to the Village, so please watch your speed and be careful. Pull off at some of the points and see how the Canyon looks different along the way. It is also an opportunity to see a lot of wildlife too!
Our second sunset at the Grand Canyon was out at Desert View Point. You also get some great views of the snaking Colorado river from here.
We went for the ranger talk which started about an hour before sunset and lasted about forty five minutes. We also took alook around the Desrt View Watchtower.
After the talk we wandered off to enjoy the rest of the spectacular show.
The Desert View Watchtower, constructed in 1932 as a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower, gives you a magnificent view of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert to the east and the San Fransico Peaks to the south.
This 70 foot tower is the highest point on the South Rim. It was designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter who is often referred to as the architect of the southwest The interior walls of the tower feature murals by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie.
We took a look inside before enjoying the rangers atlk and beautiful sunset.
Desert View is near the East entrance into the park and where the Historic Watch Tower is located and many other servcies such a book store, restrooms, market place, service station, campground, and the Tusayan Ruin Musuem. Not that all the other views are not spectacular, I do remember Desert View Point having the best vantage point of almost the whole canyon. We came in through the South entrance, but we exited throught the East entrance. South Rim is opened all year long. Be careful during winter months because it does snow here. North Rim is open seasonally.
For more information:
Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce
or the National Park Service web page.
The National Park Service collects a $25 per vehicle entrance fee that is good for seven days on both the South and North Rims.
The drive along the East side is beautiful, with lots of turn-outs, great scenery and every angle is a little different. You can go at your own pace in your own car. It's a nice break from the crowds on the shuttles over on the West side.
At Desert View there are stores as well as the watch tower. Climb to the top of the tower and you'll see fantastic views out of the windows. The tower was designed by Mary Colter, the "architect of the southwest". She was inspired by the Hopi Indians.
The overlook offers shopping, dining, restrooms and ample parking space. And some spectacular views of the Canyon, of course. Since, looking west, you see, say, all across the Canyon, the distances in your field of view are gigantenormous. Probably only the neighbour Lipan Point can also afford somewhat "matching" field of view. I prefer Desert View, though.
We drove along the South Rim from Mather Point to Desert View by the eastern park entrance. We had decided to make a stop there, since it is the highest point on the southern side. There is an information center and a view tower, with indian art and souvernirs. And there is a cafe, I got my coffee :-) I need not say that the view was gorgeous, do I?
I had heard that Mather Point had the best view, but to my opinion this is better!
Outside the tower there is a terrace, looks like it is used for barbecuing (lower right corner of picture 5). How lovely would that be, to enjoy a good meal and the sunset over the canyon simultaneously! * Must come back! *
Desert View, at 7,438 feet above sea level, is probably the second busiest place of the park, as it is the first overlook from the East Entrance on Hwy 64. Here is one of the few spots with plenty of parking, and there is also a gas station, campground, small restaurant and gift shop, and restrooms.
The highlight of the Desert View overlook is the historic Watchtower...it was built in 1933 of local stone in a native style to blend in with the environment.
This area is also the only overlook with a clear view of a large stretch of the Colorado River.
The first stop along the Desert View Drive (coming from the east) is Desert View. You can gas up your car here if you didn't outside the park. The Watchtower, a 70 foot high tower modeled after ancient pueblos, will be sure to catch your eye. The first floor houses a gift shop, and you can climb a staircase to an observation deck to view the canyon.
At Desert View, there is a watch tower that takes you up four floors, offering a different perspective of Grand Canyon. The cost of admission is 25cents.
Desert View is an important point of Grand Canyon, for this is where the Canyon abruptly ends. All of a sudden on the right of the canyon is a desert, with rolling sand dunes & a wide mountain with a flat top. It looks like it was a prehistoric volcano that blew of its top. This special area might give us a clue to the earth's geologic past.
From desert view, you might be able to catch a small glimpse of the Painted Desert, which is tens of miles away.
This is a watchtower that you climb up for a 25 cent donation. The views from the top are fantastic, affording views of the canyon, the Colorado River, and as far away as the Pained Desert! I reccommend it if you're on the east side of the park!