Desert View Drive runs 22 miles from the Grand Canyon Visitors Center to the Desert View Watchtower. This road hugs the canyon rim all the way to the National Park exit gate. Desert View Drive then becomes State Road 64 as it rolls through some hilly forested country in the Kaibab National Forest.The landscape changes again while going through the majestic Little Colorado Gorge area near Cameron in the Navajo Nation. As can be imagined, driving the entire length of Desert View Drive and continuing east on SR 64 is more than just a memorable experience!
Desert View Drive is most famous for majestic Grand Canyon overlooks and there are plenty of them along this road. The views at each overlook are so magnificent, that one almost feels obligated to experience every single one along the way. No matter whether smokey haze fills the canyon or there are crystal clear cobalt blue skies, the views of the Grand Canyon along Desert View Drive are nothing less than spectacular!
There are a few cozy picnic areas under shade trees that can be found along this 22 mile section of road. Many of the picnic areas are located next to nature walk trails. Most of the picnic areas offer waste disposal bins and facilities, which are a nice convenience. One of the most popular hiking trailheads on Desert View Drive goes to Grandview. The Grandview Trail is fairly easy to manage during the cool winter months. Hikers are rewarded with 360º panoramic views of The Grand Canyon at the end of this trail and many famous artists have painted pictures from this vantage point.
Just like at the scenic overlooks along the Rim Trail near Mather Point in Grand Canyon Village, visitors should use caution when approaching the canyon rim along Desert View Drive. Looking down over the wall at some of the scenic overlooks will result in a view of a sheer drop that goes thousands of feet straight down, so it is best to keep pets on a leash and be sure the children are nearby.
At one such cliffside parking area, I watched a visitor open their car door and a big German Shepherd escaped from the car without a leash. The big dog broke into a full run and bolted straight toward the short stone wall on the canyon rim. The next thing you know, the dog leaped on top of the 4 foot high wall while running full speed, as if it was expecting to see green grass on the other side or something. The panic stricken dog then back peddled like crazy while trying not to go over the edge after looking at the sheer drop-off down below, which was about 1500 feet straight down.
The big dog was in a total state of panic and so was the owner that was trying to chase him down. The dog owner was actually doing a full bore sprint for the wall too, while trying to save her dog. My stomach turned a little because all I could think about was that both the dog and its owner were surely both going to end up hurtling over the edge! As it turned out, everything ended up getting under control somehow and fortunately so, because I almost had to watch something in real life that usually only happens in cartoons. For this reason it is best to keep in mind that there is no super hero flying in the sky that will save a person or dog that falls into this deep canyon, so by all means, use common sense when near the canyon rim!
The scenic overlooks along Desert View Drive are a great place to escape from the Grand Canyon Village crowds and the views of the Grand Canyon are just as picturesque as anywhere else in this National Park. Viewing the majestic landscape of the Grand Canyon will provide a visual escape for many years to come. Be sure to pack a good camera, so the memories can be shared back home!
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