There are fine canyon vistas from this viewpoint, but
it has been named for the eastward view of the Arizona
Painted Desert, which shows its pink colors in the far
distance. Services here include a campground, summer
information center, store, cafe, and service station.The
service station and campground are closed during winter
months. Desert View Watchtower was designed by architect
Mary Coulter and constructed in the 1930s. Coulter took
her inspiration from similar structures in Anasazi
communities at Mesa Verde and Canyon de Chelly.
The tower is 70 feet high, and a staircase takes you
to the top for fine views in all directions. The levels
of the tower are decorated in native motifs, and the
souvenir shop is built somewhat like a ceremonial kiva.
Look for the river flowing through Marble Canyon (to the
north of the tower). Not marble, the rock formation is
actually limestone. Just beyond Desert View is the east
gate to the park. Cameron is 32 miles to the east via
West Rim Drive
This 8-mile drive begins in Grand Canyon Village and
ends at Hermit's Rest, passing several viewpoints. The
road is closed to private cars during the busy summer
period (another reason to come in the off-season), and a
shuttle bus takes you to the various viewpoints along the
The drive begins just west of Bright Angel Lodge. The
overlook at this point is at the top of the Bright Angel
Fault, through which the Bright Angel Trail descends
toward the canyon floor. The West Rim Drive was
originally constructed by the Santa Fe Railroad and
opened in 1912 as a tour route. West of the Bright Angel
Trailhead are several overlooks:
Bright Angel Trailhead - Overlooks I & II
As the road climbs, there is a good view of the Bright
Angel Trail from two overlooks connected by a walkway.
Originally an Indian route to the gardens on the Tonto
Platform, the path was used by miners to transport
supplies by pack mule. It was operated as a toll road for
nearly 290 years. You can see the trail from the lower
viewpoint, with switchbacks snaking down the side of the
cliffs. This is a nine-mile journey to the riverside. The Rim Trail, which begins in front of the Yavapai Museum
and passes beside the El Tovar Hotel, leads along the
West Rim as far as Pima Point.
Under this overlook is Horn Canyon with the river and
Inner Gorge far below. The river is obscured. The
Battleship is the name of the prominent formation to the
right as you look over the canyon.
There is a monument commemorating John Wesley Powell at the viewpoint. Years after his explorations of this
region in 1869 and 1871/72, he was made director of the
U.S. Geological Survey. There is no view of the river
from this spot.
The most impressive views from the canyon's West Rim
are available here. The Palisades of the Desert are seen
far to the east. The river is also seen from this point.
The Alligator is the formation just to the west -- a long
red jutting point of rock capped with shale. The Tonto
Platform is also seen below, as is the Tonto Trail, which
crosses the platform.
Hard beside the Alligator, Mohave Point provides a
good look at the Hermit Rapid, seen to the west. Semi
hidden behind the Alligator is Granite Rapid. Past Mohave
Point is the Abyss, where the road curves around a cliff
almost 3,000 feet deep. This is a good point to get out
of the car and walk along the West Rim Trail. There are
good views of Monument Creek as it carves its way down
the cliffsides. The creek gets its name from the stone
towers which are seen in the creekbed.
This overlook provides a grand vista with views of the
Inner Gorge, the Powell Plateau (far to the west), and
Cape Royal (also part of the North Rim -- 15 miles east).
The end of the drive is dedicated to Louis Boucher, a
French Canadian prospector and miner who came to the
Grand Canyon about 1890. He lived alone and built a home
beside the remote Dripping Springs, near the end of what
has come to be known as Hermit Canyon. He mined copper to
the west of that canyon and had a well-known fruit
orchard that attracted tourists. He moved to Utah in
1912. Shortly after, the Santa Fe Railroad, which
exploited the Grand Canyon for tourism purposes, built a
tour road following Boucher's trail to the Tonto
Platform, where a tentÚcabin campground was
established. The road ends here but the canyon continues
as the river flows toward Lake Mead.
Towers and Temples
The high monuments -- pinnacles and buttes -- rising
from the canyon have mystical names provided by early map
makers. They include Shiva Temple, Wotan's Throne, the
Tower of Ra, and Zoroaster Temple. Even without fancy
names, these buttes would be impressive. The towers are
seen from most of the South Rim viewpoints and are
identified on the national park map/brochure.
Rental cars are available at the Grand Canyon
Airport rental desks. The regular shuttle service between
Grand Canyon Village, the town of Tusayan, and the Grand
Canyon Airport operates on an hourly schedule. Air tours
of the Grand Canyon can be booked at any of the Grand
Canyon lodges (at the transportation desks). A list of
tour operators is available at the Visitor Information
Center. Several fixed-wing and helicopter tours depart
from the Grand Canyon Airport.
Bus tours within the park operate daily, taking
visitors to Desert View and Hermit's Rest from the
Village. The Railroad Express provides bus service for
those wishing to take a one-way trip on the scenic steam
train (from and to Williams).
Medical services are available at the Grand Canyon
Health Clinic, located on Clinic Road (off Center Road).
The Park Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 8:30
am to 12:30 pm and from 1:30 pm to 5 pm. There's a
dentist available Monday through Wednesday from 8 am to 3
Gasoline is available in the village and (during
summer months) at Desert View. A laundry with showers is
found at at Camper Services, near Mather Campground. The
park even has a Beauty and Barber Shop, located in Bright
Angel Lodge. Pet kennels are available, open daily from
7:30 am to 5 pm, call (602) 638-2631.
Park Information and Reservations
or general information, call (520) 638- 7888. For lodging
reservations & most other concession activities
(including mule rides, Phantom Ranch, etc.) call (520)
638-2631 (same-day reservations) or (303) 297-2757
Where to Eat
No need to go hungry while visiting the South
Rim. The El Tovar Hotel dining room is open for
breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Arizona Steakhouse is
beside the Rim Trail, west of the El Tovar, with
Bright Angel Restaurant is located in the lodge
of the same name and is open daily from 6:30 am to 10 pm.
The lounge here is open from 11 am to midnight.
Maswik Cafeteria is located across the road
from the visitor center. It's closed during winter
months. Meals are available at Phantom Ranch, with
breakfast, lunch, and a stew dinner served daily. Reserve
your meals at the Bright Angel Transportation Desk.