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Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim - Arizona

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Desert View

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 Highway 64.

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 rim.

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.

Maricopa 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.

Powell Point

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.

Hopi Point

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.

Mohave Point

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.

Pima Point

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).

Hermit's Rest

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.

 Park Services

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 pm.

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 (advance reservations). 

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 cafeteria-style service.

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.

Where to Stay -- Hotel Guide

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Benson Arizona

For our guide to the Grand Canyon North Rim,
Go Here.

 

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