Enjoy a sweeping panoramic view of the Grand Canyon from the historic Desert View Watchtower. Architect Mary Colter created the tower, built in the early 1930s, as an homage to the watchtowers built by the Ancestral Puebloan people who once inhabited the Four Corners area. The murals inside were painted by a local Hopi artist.
The Desert View Watchtower serves as the official national park visitor center for the Desert View area of Grand Canyon National Park. Most guided tours of the South Rim, including day trips from Flagstaff and Sedona, stop at the Watchtower, along with other area attractions such as Grand Canyon Village, Yavapai Point, and Lipan Point. Fixed-wing flightseeing tours offer a unique perspective on the Grand Canyon landmark from above.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Desert View Watchtower is a must-see for art lovers, history buffs, and photographers.
- Be prepared to climb 85 steps to reach the tower’s observation deck.
- The Kiva Room within the structure houses a shop selling books and gifts.
- Only the bottom floor of the Desert View Watchtower is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Desert View Watchtower stands at the East Gate of Grand Canyon National Park. Getting there takes about 90 minutes by car from Flagstaff and 40 minutes from Grand Canyon Village.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the Desert View Watchtower is during either the spring or autumn shoulder season, when temperatures are cool and summer crowds have thinned. The watchtower often hosts cultural and ranger programs, so check the calendar before your trip.
Desert View Drive
This scenic route through Grand Canyon National Park follows the South Rim from just east of Grand Canyon Village all the way to the Desert View Watchtower and the park’s east entrance. Visitors who make the drive will pass six marked canyon viewpoints, four picnic areas, an Ancestral Puebloan ruin site, and the Tusayan Museum, which displays artifacts and traditional handicrafts made by local native tribes.