Grandview Point

An open scenic canyon vista of colored rocks, steep slopes, sheer cliffs, and blue sky with clouds.
A very popular view of the canyon, Grandview offers those traveling east their first river view.

NPS/Mike Quinn

Quick Facts
Desert View Drive

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Picnic Table, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trailhead, Trash Dumpster, Trash/Litter Receptacles, Wheelchair Accessible

This popular viewpoint offers panoramic views of Grand Canyon from east to west, including several bends of the Colorado River to the east.

The historic Grandview Trail begins here. This trail is incredibly steep! In summer, much of the trail is in full sun. In winter, ice and snow make hiking treacherous. Always use caution on the Grandview Trail and consult a park ranger at one of the visitor centers or the Backcountry Information Center for the latest weather and trail conditions.

On the road to Grandview Point, you may notice a shift from pinyon-juniper woodlands to ponderosa pine forests. Ponderosa pine typically grows at higher altitudes than pinyon-juniper, where the weather is cooler and slightly wetter. The area around Grandview point is slightly higher than the areas east or west of it and even this slight difference in elevation is enough to increase the amount of precipitation the area gets and decrease the overall temperature. These tiny shifts in the environment are enough to impact the plant community in the area, causing the shift to the taller trees and needle covered forest floor. There is even a small grove of aspen trees near Grandview Point, the only ones found anywhere on the South Rim. The area affected is too small to create a totally different environment for the animals of the South Rim, but the forest around Grandview Point is a favorite spot for deer, elk, and mountain lions. If you're really lucky, you might even see one of the canyon's occasional transient black bears.

If you keep your eyes peeled as you travel throughout the park, you'll notice many places where the topography of the canyon can mimic changes in altitude through variations in shade, temperature, and moisture, allowing plants to grow in places where one would not normally expect to find them. These micro-habitats are part of the reason that Grand Canyon is one of the most ecologically diverse national parks in the country.

From the mid-1880s to the early 1900s, the area around Grandview Point was the epicenter for visitation and tourism at the South Rim. Mining interests (mainly copper) on Horseshoe Mesa, far below Grandview Point, generated even more interest in this area by 1892, spurring the initial improvement of the Grandview Trail. The Grandview Toll Trail to Horseshoe Mesa was completed in 1893, and by 1897, the rustic Grandview Hotel offered lodging to visitors that made the long, bumpy, dusty wagon road journey from Flagstaff. Tourism at Grandview changed dramatically in 1901 when the Santa Fe Railroad completed a spur rail line to the canyon rim from the town of Williams, followed by construction in 1910 of a fine rail station near El Tovar Hotel in the rapidly developing Grand Canyon Village, 13 miles (20.9 km) west of this location. The increased ease of travel offered by the railroad and the more modern services offered by the Sante Fe Railroad and Fred Harvey Companies lured visitors away from the more rustic accommodations and facilities at Grandview Point, and bit by bit, the tourism trade at Grandview slowly dwindled away.

The Grandview Hotel closed in 1913 after the entire area was sold to California newspaper magnate William Randolf Hearst. Although Hearst long considered developing his own tourism enterprise at Grandview Point, that development never came to pass; he largely used the area as a family retreat, finally dismantling the Grandview Hotel in 1928-1929. Wooden beams from the Grandview Hotel now form the ceiling of the kiva room on the first floor of the Desert View Watchtower. The property was acquired by the National Park Service in 1941.
Looking to the east from Grandview Point provides a splendid view of one of Grand Canyon's most recognizable rock formations: the Sinking Ship. The rock layers of the Sinking Ship are noticeably dipping down to the north, making the entire formation look like a ship perched on the rim of the canyon that is about to sink down into its very depths. These folded, dipping rock layers are evidence of a dramatic geologic feature which passes directly below Grandview Point: the Grandview-Phantom Monocline. Monoclines are unusual step-like folds in layers of sedimentary rock, usually (though not always) formed in association with movement along faults; think of a carpet or rug draped over a set of stairs. Monoclines are a relatively common feature in Grand Canyon geology, largely thanks to the uplift of the Kaibab Plateau and movement along the canyon's many faults. The Grandview-Phantom Monocline formed as a result of the Laramide Orogeny, a tectonic event from about 70-40 million years ago that uplifted the Colorado Plateau and formed the modern Rocky Mountains.

Grand Canyon National Park

Last updated: January 12, 2024