Desert View FAQ

Q: What is the historic Watchtower and what does it overlook?

  • The Desert View Watchtower® was built in 1932, and opened to the public in 1933. It was designed by Mary Jane Elizabeth Colter, whose vision was to have the highest view point with a 180-degree lookout into the canyon. From the overlook, one can see the Colorado River, Tanner Rapids, the Little Colorado Gorge, Painted Desert and the North Rim. The Tower has 85 stairs and 4 levels, with about 20 stairs on each level. The design is based on ancient Native pueblos and ruins.

Q: Where is Desert View?

  • Desert View is located 23 miles east of the South Rim (roughly a 35 minute drive).

Q: What can visitors buy at the Trading Post?

  • The Trading Post is at least 70% Made in America and at least 60% Native American Products. It covers the 4 Corners area of Natives with Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Jemez, Acoma, and Santa Clara.

Q: What food can I buy at Desert View?

  • The Trading Post Deli provides healthier choices all made to order, such as deli sandwiches, pizza, soup, hot dogs, chili dogs and ice cream. There is also a Grab 'n Go section for those who are on a time limit, filled with sandwiches, yogurt, fruit cups, hummus, desserts and juices.

Q: What can I buy at the General Store?

  • The General Store has a variety of dry food items, which works well for those camping at Desert View. There is ice, firewood, wine, beer (no liquor), milk, eggs, and hot dogs. There is no produce and no meat other than sandwich meat at Desert View General Store. The Store also has a variety of souvenirs including T-shirts, hats, magnets, postcards, DVDs, a youth section with plush items, games and apparel, a stamp machine, ATM and sundries.

Q: Is Desert View open year-round?

  • Yes, the hours vary from season to season. There is a Chevron service station (the only one in the park), which also has seasonal hours, but visitors can pay at the pumps with a credit card year-round.

Q: Are there hiking trails at Desert View?

  • There are no hiking trails at Desert View. The closest hiking trail is at Lipan Point, which is 3 miles west of Desert View. Tanner Trail goes to the river and is very strenuous, even for the experienced hiker..

Q: What if I want to camp at Desert View?

  • The Desert View campground is run by the National Park Service. It has 50 camp sites, which are full from opening day (mid-May) until closing (mid-October). There are no reservations, so it is first-come-first-served. It is an automated payment system of $12.00 per night.