Among the most popular viewing points along Desert Rim Drive, Moran Point offers extensive vistas of the entire Canyon. It’s one of the most popular viewpoints for visitors to the Grand Canyon due to its convenient proximity to the Grand Canyon Visitor’s Center and its truly unbeatable views of unique rock formations.
Moran Point History and Background
Moran Point is one of twenty major viewing points on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon (there are more, but they are difficult to reach without extensive hiking). It’s located just off the East Rim Drive (only a few miles east of Grand Canyon Village), and is one of the most visited viewpoints along that road, along with Desert View Point, Grandview Point, and Yaki Point. It’s actually directly due south of Cape Royal on the North Rim, for those interested in knowing what’s on the other side of the canyon!
Some theories hold that Moran Point was named for American artist Thomas Moran, whose love for the natural beauty of this site inspired him to help promote the Grand Canyon as a valuable tourist destination. Recently, however, Arizona State University has suggested that it was actually named for his brother, Peter Moran, who first explored the territory in the early 1880s.
What’s at Moran Point
Moran Point is one of the four major viewpoints on the east rim drive. It features gorgeous views of a number of unique rock formations, including the Colorado Butte and the Red Canyon. The Colorado Butte is prominently visible to the west, and a number of other smaller ravines and rock formations stretch out in the same direction. It also unfortunately blocks some views of the southern cliffs, although you can still see a great deal of territory downriver. The colorful Red Canyon is another enormously popular site, located right below Moran Point. It’s a great opportunity for unique photographs of some of the Grand Canyon’s most iconic stone.
Moran Point is also an important location for those interested in the unique geology of the Grand Canyon; here is where you’ll find clear changes in the rock formation that indicate dramatic differences in age – in some cases up to 600 million years difference! There are also a number of geologic rock groups visible from Moran Point: Layered Paleozoic Rocks, the Grand Canyon Supergroup, and the Vishnu Basement Rocks
Lastly, hikers may also enjoy a visit to Moran Point – it serves as the starting point for the rough, eight-mile New Hance Trail. Be warned, though, it’s a pretty challenging trail, without water and occasionally without a clear direction.
Tips for Visiting Moran Point
- Dedicated hikers will love the New Hance Trail, considered the toughest descent into the Canyon.
- Fans of art will want to scope out Thomas Moran’s work after a visit here, to see how these grand vistas inspired the artist.
- Moran Point is a regular stop for Pink Jeep Tours.
- This is one of the most popular spots for painters and photographers because it’s so easy to capture the play of light and shadow on the rock.