View from the Watchtower at Desert View

I don’t know about you, but when I think of the desert, I think of snow. No? You don’t? Well, my first experience in the desert was 2 days of rain then driving north to discover several feet of snow. I was excited to experience dry heat on this trip and it felt exactly the same as the air feels in Michigan. For an area called Desert View, this, while still beautiful, was not the landscape I was expecting, even in February.

The Desert View Watchtower (below) is the man made landmark of this part of the park. Built in 1932 by architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, it is meant to replicate towers in other southwestern cities. The tower was built to blend in with its surroundings. Colter herself described it as “One that would create no discordant note against the time-eroded walls of this promontory…The color and texture of this weathered surface rock naturally matched our terrain as none other could, but we were at the necessity of using it in just the shape it was found, as any tool mark became a conspicuous scar on the face of our walls. So we were obliged to select carefully for size and shape every unit of stone built into our masonry.” (NPS)

Climbing the watchtower affords great views of the canyon and the surrounding landscape. The interior of the tower on the first floor is decorated with paintings by a Hopi artist. Paintings on higher floors are replicas of those found in other southwestern sites. The paintings help get you in the mind set up the people who lived in the places many years ago. I imagine if you visit in the summer months, the watchtower gets very crowded, but it was relatively empty on this cold, snowy February day.

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