Desert View Point marks the easternmost entrance to Grand Canyon National Park (as such, it’s also known in some circles as Grand Canyon East). Located on the South Rim about four miles from the park entrance, this point is a popular option for “first glimpse” of the majestic natural wonders below for those entering from the east. Importantly, this location also signals the transition between Grand Canyon National Park and the Navajo and Hopi reservations to the east.
Desert View Point History and Background
Desert View Point is one of about twenty major South Rim viewpoints. It’s the easternmost (except for Comanche, which is reachable only via a hiking trail), and functions as its own region of the park because it has its own entrance, visitors’ center, and ranger station. (It is, however, still part of the National Park.) It’s also conveniently located just off Desert View Drive, so it’s easy to get from Desert View to other viewpoints along the South Rim. Many find that entering the park here is a bit easier and less crowded than entering via Grand Canyon Village and it’s often recommended for repeat visitors.
What’s at Desert View Point
As the easternmost point accessible by car, Desert View Point provides a unique perspective on the National Park. Unlike several of the other viewing points, the vista here encompasses a significant portion of the stunning Painted Desert, with its lively colors and flat plains. The available views from Desert View Point are wide-ranging, moreover, offering sights of numerous peaks, river tributaries, and other sites of interest from Shoshone Point to the Vermilion and Echo Cliffs. It’s an especially popular destination for professional photographers looking for stellar views and fewer crowds.
Desert View Point is also the site of the famed Watchtower, a historic structure designed by legendary architect Mary E. J. Colter to evoke Puebloan architecture and heritage – specifically, the stone watchtowers frequently found throughout the Four Corners region. The Watchtower was built in 1932 and stretches seventy feet into the sky. It’s actually the highest point on the entire South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and from it visitors can see breathtaking panoramic views.
Finally, Desert View Point is a useful place for visitors to stop, featuring a restaurant, a gas station, a bookstore, a ranger station, and ample parking. Desert View itself even boasts a popular campground that is sometimes less crowded than other campsites inside the National Park. Desert View is also quite near to Grand Canyon Village (about a twenty-minute drive due west), which offers a number of additional amenities. Grand Canyon Village is also home to a number of hotels, so interested visitors can stay in close proximity to Desert View Point without the effort of camping.
Tips for Visiting Desert View Point
- The best time for photographs at Desert View Point is early in the morning, because you’ll be able to see the sun illuminate the cliffs of the North Rim.
- Sights you can see from here include the Painted Desert, the San Francisco Peaks, and the Vermilion Cliffs.
- Desert View Point arguably provides better views than Grand Canyon Village because visitors can also see the Colorado River from this vantage point.
- It’s easier to find parking here than at Grand Canyon Village.
- Note to campers: the campground here does not have showers, but it is a comfortable and friendly atmosphere and many people recommend it.