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Grand Canyon Hiking

What to Do - Walking and Hiking

By Radu Timis

DESERT VIEW DRIVE (EAST RIM DRIVE) This is the road heading east from Visitor/Interpretative Center, south of Mather Point, toward Watchtower. The East Rim Drive was designed and built by National Park Service in 1927-1931; improved, widened in 1955-1963, changing name at the beginning of 2000s in Desert View Drive. It is 23 miles long. In 1935 the National Park Service and the Bureau of Public Roads completed a road from Desert View to Cameron, 33 miles, providing drivers with an alternate and scenic highway to and from the South Rim.

THE RIM TRAIL It is paved from Maricopa Point in west, and passes by rim hotels, Yavapai Observation Station, Mather Point, ends 1.3 mile (2.1 km) east of Mather. This belvedere is called Pipe Creek Vista.

YAKI POINT Reaching this point is possible only by shuttle bus, or walking. No private car is allowed to enter here from the main Desert View Drive. The shuttle buses (green colored point) provide free transportation from Canyon View Information Plaza/Visitor Center, 3 miles (4.8 km) east, via Pipe Creek Vista, to Yaki Point. Here's the trailhead of The South Kaibab Trail. The trail is the result of the competition between public and private interests in the Village and canyon. South Kaibab Trail descends into canyon on 7 miles, zigzagging mostly on the ridgeline, on a path that was used for centuries by Native Americans, and the route dynamited out of the solid rock in 1925. Down in the canyon there is a metallic suspended bridge over the Colorado River, continuing with The North Kaibab Trail that climbs out of the canyon, at North Rim.

Yaki Point thrusts spectacularly into the canyon and you have the sensation it is suspended in air. Panoramas of the canyon are unhindered from west (Great Thumb Mesa) to east, beyond the Watchtower, to Desert Palisades, providing gorgeous views of the mesas, buttes and spires inside the canyon. As one descends on S. Kaibab Trail to Tonto Platform, Phantom Ranch, and Clear Creek Canyon become visible.

GRANDVIEW POINT It is 12 miles (19.3 km) east of the Village. In 1888 Pete Berry arrived here and started mining copper from a place 3 miles below the rim. In 1892 he and his partners managed to build the Grand View Toll Trail to the mining claim. Today the point offer majestic views over the canyon, and the trail end can be seen from the belvedere of what once was a copper mine.

MORAN POINT Heading east from Grandview Point, this overlook took the name of Thomas Moran, an artist who spent a lot of time at the canyon between 1899 and 1920, painting and sketching. From this point there is a good and close view over Walhalla Plateau, Wotans Throne and Vishnu Temple toward North Rim.

TUSAYAN RUIN and MUSEUM Found on the right side of the road heading toward Desert View, and at 20 miles (32 km) east of The Village. The ruins were discovered, excavated, developed in 1930 and preserved in 1932 in a museum for which a woman, MacCurdy, paid $4,500 for its construction. The Museum contains artifacts (rests of bows, throwing sticks, and stone arrow tips), seeds, pottery shards, etc. Inside the Park were unearthed, so far, around 2500 prehistoric sites, all of them being linked to Pueblo (Anasazi) people and their culture. The archeologists appreciate that the ancient population reached its climax at cca. A.D. 1050-1150, then declined at the beginning of 1200s for unknown, yet, reasons. The Museum has a self guided tour exhibiting remnants of the Tusayan Pueblo, its earlier Pabloan people, from whom the Hopi Indians, just short to the east, are descending from.

LIPAN POINT It has the most extensive and wider views on the South Rim and the river itself. The eyes can see as far northeast as Vermilion Cliffs, near Lees Ferry and Marble Canyon. Northward, a multitude of buttes, spires and temples were named Vishnu, Apollo, Juno, Jupiter, Venus Temples, and Wotans Throne in 1882 by topographer Clarence Dutton and in 1902 by surveyor Francois Matthes, both with in depth classical education and boundless imagination. Immediately below the lookout is the humongous Cardenas Butte, bearing the name of Garcia Lopez de Cardenas, the conquistador that reached near this point in 1540, and trying to find a water way to The Sea of Cortez, southward.

DESERT VIEW and WATCHTOWER Found at 23 miles (37 km) east of The Village. The National Park Service, the Fred Harvey Co, and Santa Fe Railroad started in 1928 building the east entrance into the South Rim, and in the center of it, The Indian Watchtower. This construction was designed in 1932 by architect Mary Colter, 70 ft. tall, steel framed and enveloped in Kaibab Limestone. It was meant to re-create stone towers of the Puebloan (Anasazi) people, 800 years old, in The Four Corner area (point where Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado states merge). Hopi artist Fred Kabotie made all the murals inside the Watchtower, through petroglyphs and pictographs describing and showing the prehistoric Puebloan people. The land visible east from the top of the tower, is mostly Navajo Indian Reservation; Little Colorado River Gorge chasmís upper rims are visible; northeastward The Vermilion and Echo Cliffs, topographically, indicate the head of the Marble Canyon that constitutes the easternmost border of the Grand Canyon National Park. Beyond Vermilion and Echo Cliffs the Painted Desert is faintly seen.

Next: Grand Canyon Hiking Trails

Grand Canyon National Park

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