Desert View Drive

0.0 Intersection of South Rim and Desert View Drives

Desert View Drive and the mileage log start at the T-intersection on the South Rim entrance road, east of Canyon View Information Plaza and follows the South Rim 21 miles east to Desert View. In addition to the named viewpoints, there are several unnamed viewpoints and quiet picnic areas along the road.

0.7 Pipe Creek Vista

This viewpoint is on the left next to the road and can be reached by car or the free Kaibab Shuttle. Pick up the Kaibab Shuttle at the Canyon View Information Plaza. It is the first viewpoint after entering Desert View Drive from the South Rim Entrance Road. From here, you're looking down Pipe Creek. A section of the Tonto Trail is visible snaking along the Tonto Plateau about 3,000 feet below the rim. The original Bright Angel Trail used this section of the Tonto Trail as part of its route from rim to river. This is also the eastern trailhead for the Rim Trail. The Rim Trail follows the South Rim west to Hermits Rest at the end of the Hermit Road. There are shuttle bus stops at the major viewpoints along the Rim Trail, which lets you walk any part and then catch the shuttle.

1.2 Yaki Point and Kaibab Trailhead

The side road to Yaki Point and the South Kaibab Trailhead is accessible only via the Kaibab Shuttle. Yaki Point offers a view of the upper South Kaibab Trail. This trail was built by the Park Service during the 1920's shortly after the creation of the national park to avoid tolls on the privately-owned Bright Angel Trail. Together with the North Kaibab Trail, the trail is the only maintained trail across the Grand Canyon form South Rim to North Rim. But the Kaibab Trail wasn't the first trans-canyon trail. That honor goes to the South and North Bass trails, built by William Bass to reach his prospects and mine workings in the Bass Canyon and Shinumo Creek areas, far to the west of the Kaibab Trail. Like several other miners, Bass later used his trails to guide tourists. By ferrying his customers across the Colorado River in a boat or taking them across on a cableway, he could guide them from the South Rim to the North Rim and back.

8.8 Grandview Point

Grandview Point

Grandview Point

Well-named Grandview Point is not only the trailhead for the Grandview Trail but also one of the best viewpoints on the South Rim. The panoramic views overlook Horseshoe Mesa, Hance Canyon, and the Colorado River. Grandview Hotel, the destination for early visitors who arrived by stagecoach from Flagstaff before the railroad and automobile took over, was located just to the south of Grandview Point.

14.6 Moran Point

Moran Point

Moran Point

At Moran Point, you can clearly see the transition in the canyon's geology as the soft, colorful, tilted rocks of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, which make up the floor of the canyon to the east, give way to the hard, dark gray rocks of the Vishnu Schist, which forms Granite Gorge to the west.

The Grand Canyon Supergroup is not present throughout the Grand Canyon. These layers of rock were deposited on top of the Vishnu schist and then uplifted and faulted to form a major mountain range. Most of those mountains, and the Supergroup, were eroded away before the Tapeats sandstone was deposited on top of the Vishnu schist.

18.5 Tusayan Museum

Tusayan Ruin

Tusayan Ruin

Located off the south side of Desert View Drive between Moran and Lipan points, this small museum has exhibits and books that explain the nearby ruin from the Pueblo period. An easy trail loops around the ruin and there are restrooms and a small picnic area.

19.7 Lipan Point

Escalante and Cardenas buttes from Lipan Point

Escalante and Cardenas buttes from Lipan Point

Located on a promontory projecting out over the canyon, Lipan Point has fine views of the colorful geology of the eastern canyon. The floor of the canyon to the northeast is dominated by the soft, colorful shales and sandstones of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, a tilted layer of ancient rocks which is best exposed at the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River meanders through this landscape as it passes Tanner and Unkar rapids. Lipan Point is also the trailhead for the Tanner Trail, a steep, unmaintained trail which descends past Escalante and Cardenas buttes to Tanner Rapids at the Colorado River.

20.8 Navajo Point

Navajo Point

Navajo Point

Cardenas Butte and nearby Cardenas Creek are named after Lieutenant Lopez de Cardenas, a member of the Coronado Expedition which traveled north from Mexico City and eventually along the present Arizona-New Mexico border. Cardenas was detached from the main expedition and sent west to confirm reports of a great river. With the assistance of Hopi guides, Cardenas reached the South Rim somewhere between Desert View and Moran Point in 1542.

21.4 Desert View

The Watchtower at Desert View

The Watchtower at Desert View

Located at the east end of Desert View Drive, Desert View features the Watchtower, a structure designed by Mary Colter and inspired by the ruins of watchtowers used by prehistoric inhabitants of the canyon country. The tower and the viewpoint below it will both give you stunning views of the eastern canyon, including the especially sheer cliffs of the Palisades of the Desert and the Desert Facade.

Services at Desert View include a gift shop, snack bar, bookstore, information center, service station, campground, and restrooms. The East Entrance Station is also located at Desert View.