Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Desert View

Thursday June 9, 2011
Cameron Trading Post RV Park

Warning.  This blog has
enough pictures to make up
for a month of no picture blogs.

Today we had to pull up stakes and leave
the Grand Canyon.  But we are driving out
25 miles along the Eastern end of the South Rim to
the Desert View Visitors Center and
the Watchman tower
for the day before leaving the park.

We were on our way about 10:15.
We drove separately since we wanted
the option to backtrack to some of the
view points on the drive if time permitted.
Seemed not worth it to put the car on the
dolly, take it off and put it on again.

Plenty of room in the parking lot at Desert View
got Winnona, her dolly, and the car.
We walked down to Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter’s
It stands right on the canyon rim. 

In 1930, the Fred Harvey Company
commissioned Colter to build a gift shop
and rest area with the widest possible view
that would also be in harmony with its setting.


The tower definitely looks like the Anasazi Watchtower
she was hoping to imitate.  Although it is considerably
larger than any known Anasazi tower.
Notice the designs at the top of the 5 story tower.
Colter scrutinized every detail down to the placement
of nearly every stone.  Stones placed in her absence, of which
stone she later disapproved,  had to be redone.
Sounds like a tough taskmaster.


The views from the grounds surrounding the
Watchtower are gorgeous.

Desert View (220)A

The Watchtower has the best views of the Colorado River I've seen at the Grand Canyon.
Notice the island on the far right above in the middle of the river.
And the ribbon of green between the cliffs 1/3 of the
way down the picture below.

You can see boats in the river with the naked eye
but they are small specks.  With my binoculars
I could see them quite clearly.

Desert View (222)A

The ground floor and largest room in the round building
was originally known as the kiva room.
This room is now used as a gift shop. 
Native American jewelry, pottery, baskets and rugs are sold

Desert View (205)

Notice the wooden ceiling laid out in a pattern found
in prehistoric Native American architecture and is still used today.

Desert View (206)A

The stairs lead up to the most impressive part of the
building, the interior 4 floors of the tower.

Desert View (204)

The space in the upper floors
is an open shaft surrounded by circular balconies
edging the walls which have stone benches along them
and various size windows looking out to the extraordinary views. 
A small staircase along the curved wall leads to the next level.

And if that isn’t amazing enough,
the murals covering the walls and ultimate
ceiling are simply outstanding.
Here is what greets you on the 2nd floor,
first floor of the tower.  Or at least the
best our cameras could do with the
windows letting in light all around the circular rooms.

These murals were done by Hopi Native American Fred Kabotie
who has done much of the decorative work
in the Colter buildings.

The large circular mural is his most famous work
the Hopi Snake Legend.

Desert View (202)A

Desert View (135)

This is a shot looking up from the 2nd floor to the ceiling of
the fourth floor.  Notice the
decorations on the rim.


A slightly better view of the 4th floor ceiling
from floor 2.  Notice the petroglyph copies
on the rims.  Colter had visited a number of
the same sites we had and we recognized
them.  It was great!!



I was just simply blown away by this building.
I’m looking down from the 3rd floor to David on the 2nd.
Love those rims!!


The detailing in this building amazed everyone.
This is from floor 3 looking down to 2.
Notice the stone bench along the wall.


Detailing right down to the lights.


The Rim of the 3rd floor and the stairs to the 4th.


The absolutely AMAZING 4th floor ceiling.
Notice, if you can take your eyes off the ceiling,
the stairway on the left going up to the top floor.

Desert View (187)

Hope you can see the ceiling’s detail, it is amazing.

Desert View (183)


The top, 5th floor, is totally windows.
And has a ladder that went to the roof top viewing
area.  This is no longer in use.


One of the views from these windows.

Desert View (164)

Time to start back down.


4th floor looking down.


We stopped at the 2nd floor balcony on our way down.
Here is a picture of it from out the window of the top floor.

Desert View (163)

And from the patio itself.

Desert View (123) 

As you can imagine, we had spent a
significant amount of time at the Watchtower.
It was difficult for me to drag myself away.
But I did.
And we  took the car back
up the road to check out a couple of overlooks
and the Tusayan Museum and Ruins.

The museum has very interesting exhibits


of the ancestral Pueblo people (the Kayenta Anasazi)
including two lovely pieces of pottery found in 1969
by hikers who were wise enough and kind
enough to inform the park of its existence
so it could be put on display.

Desert View (25) 

Only 5.5% of the park has been surveyed by archeologists
and already 4500 archeological sites have been found
including the Tusayan Ruins.

Desert View (7)


We drove back to the Desert View parking lot
put the car on the dolly and drove on
out of the park.  We were tired and ready
to call it a day so we stopped in Cameron
which is the town closest to the park on the east side.

Big mistake
except that the next closest town
with any accommodations was over 100 miles away.

So we ended our day at the


which appears to be the entire town of cameron
including the post office.
Kind of a cute little made up touristy place.
With a big parking lot.


You sign up for a campsite and then they send you
across the road to


Don’t know that it would have made any
difference had we seen this sign first
since we were so tired.
But we want you to beware.

The sewer and water are on concrete
islands and your hose will have to
run UPhill.   The water faucet leaks
and AMAZINGLY, the management doesn't  really care.
We told them and they sent someone out to tell us there
wasn't anything they could do about the water leaking all
over the ground in this dirt parking lot.
So we were now parked in a mud hole.

All this for a mere $24.24 with an
AARP discount. 
Believe me, this picture looks about 1000% better
than the place actually did.


We just closed the curtains, turned on
the fan to block the noise of the truck traffic
and reminded ourselves what
a WONDERFUL day we had just had.


  1. Sorry that your day ended on a sour note (or campground, I should say), but at least you have the memories of what you saw to overcome any memories of your overnight stop.

  2. Well at least you got a little tree :). Great tour once again. Thx

  3. What a shame your beautiful day ended on a muddy note. At least you didn't have to drive 100 miles though. Sometimes, when we're tired, it doesn't really matter what's going on outside, as you found out :)

    We have a white noise machine to drowned out all those noises. Our little fan would have probably done the same thing. duh!

  4. Ahh, the beauty of having your own home on wheels. Curtains are a wonderful thing, it makes every campsite perfect when they're closed.

    Amazing pics inside the tower. When I was at the tower in 1973, it was closed. I had no idea how beautiful the inside is.

    Another good reason to go back to the Canyon.

  5. We run a small fan every night and it blocks out everything except Eldy's snoring! :-( Love the photos of the tower, and great descriptions of what you saw. Thanks for sharing.

  6. We hate that it is time to leave the Grand Canyon ;o(( It has been a virtual blast seeing it through your eyes!! Your posts have been fantastic and if we can't get there ourselves, we couldn't have asked for better tour guides:o))

    Can't wait to find out where we are going next ;o))

    Safe Travels and Happy Trails....

  7. WANT. Not the campsite so much, but the canyon. Thanks for pictures.


  8. That tower is a definite must see. The murals and detailing -- especially on the ceiling -- look amazing! Sorry your campground didn't turn out to be too amazing. :-(

  9. Love that picture of you looking down from floor 3. What a great smile :) I am so happy about your happiness out there!! Really a dream come true - you & pops are an inspiration to me!! Can't wait to visit! :)


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