Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon can be daunting, but no matter what, make sure it includes a stop at the Desert View Watchtower…
Visiting the Grand Canyon is one of those “must do”s, and no one really will really debate us on this point. The question is how to do it… North rim. South rim. Camp. Stay in a lodge. Stay outside the park. You get the point. In our humble opinion, a great way to for any “newbie” to start is by coming in the eastern entrance and taking the stunning Desert View Drive west to the Desert View Watchtower.
Once parked, you’ll take a short walk toward the the rim and beautiful 70 ft. tall Desert View Watchtower.
Built to mimic ancient Indian watchtowers, the tower blends perfectly with nature but still provides a bird’s-eye view of the Grand Canyon from its southeastern corner. From its view points you can see far across the canyon and even catch glimpses of the Colorado River as it bends sharply to the west.
While appearing to be built entirely of stone, the Desert View Watchtower is actually cleverly structured from concrete and steel, all masked by the carefully placed exterior stones.
And while there’s a large viewing platform at the base of the watchtower, no visit would be complete without a journey up the interior stairs as they spiral to the top viewing room. On the way, you should spend a minute or two exploring the Hopi Room, just above the ground observation floor, with its paintings by Hopi artist Fred Kabotie.
Once you’ve climbed the Desert View Watchtower, return to the ground floor and browse the small shop and pick up your Grand Canyon maps and guides. If you’re hungry, there’s also a nearby trading post/snack bar as well as restrooms.
After taking in your first major sight of the Grand Canyon, Desert View Watchtower sets you up for plenty more stunning viewpoints (6, to be precise), picnic areas, and the Tusayan Museum & ruin site along Desert View Drive as you travel toward the heart of Grand Canyon’s South Rim Village.
If you’re headed into the Grand Canyon from the east entrance, don’t pass by Desert View Watchtower.
Really want to geek out on the watchtower? Watch this NPS video, and you’ll be quite the expert…