Have you visited the Desert View Watchtower lately? If not, you’re in for a real treat. Gone is the former gift shop clutter in the main kiva room on the ground floor. Today’s visitors can enjoy the expansive vibe, and dramatic window views, that famed designer Mary Jane Colter incorporated when she oversaw construction of this National Historic Landmark in 1932.
In early January of this year, the National Park Service (NPS) acquired the iconic structure from Xanterra Parks & Resorts—the latest in a string of owners dating back to the Fred Harvey Company who commissioned the initial construction. The Watchtower will now serve as a combination NPS visitor center and retail outlet for the Grand Canyon Association, the official non-profit partner of Grand Canyon National Park. Future plans include contracting with artists to restore the large water-damaged murals, and inviting local tribes to conduct cultural demonstrations ranging from weaving to ceremonial dances.
Visitors are still able to climb the spiral staircase to the upper floors and take in a grand view of the park from the highest point on the South Rim. Note that the nearby snack bar, grocery store, and gas station are still in operation.
Be sure to include a visit to Desert View during your next trip to the Grand Canyon, and witness firsthand the re-imagining of one of the park’s most celebrated buildings.