After visiting the Desert View Watchtower, the Tusayan Ruin and Museum, and all of the scenic overlooks along Desert View Drive, as well as all of the most popular spots in Grand Canyon Village, like Verkamp’s Visitor Center and Museum, Hopi House, Lookout Studio, Kolb Studio, and the Bright Angel Trail, we were tired! But we wanted to squeeze in one more thing…
The very last stop on our first day at Grand Canyon National Park before packing it in for dinner was the Yavapai Point Overlook and Yavapai Geology Museum located between the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and Grand Canyon Village.
Yavapai Point Overlook
The Yavapai Point Overlook provides what many consider to be the best panoramic views of this part of the Grand Canyon South Rim. It is the northernmost overlook and the closest to the Colorado River, you you’ll enjoy unobstructed, magnificent views of canyon ridges and the river below.
While Yavapai Point has incredible views, the parking area is small. Luckily, in the late afternoon we had no problem finding a parking space. If you don’t want to drive or you don’t have a vehicle, Yavapai Point is an easy walk from Verkamp’s Visitor Center or Mather Point.
When looking into Grand Canyon from Yavapai Point, you can see the river at the end of Pipe Creek, Plateau Point and a branch of the Bright Angel Trail, a long thin ridge running from Yaki Point, and views all the way east to Desert View and Palisades of the Desert.
Also from this vista point, three large canyons that meet the Colorado River on the North Rim are visible:
- In the west, Trinity Creek flows from beneath Shiva Temple and joins the river near Hopi Point.
- Directly opposite Yavapai Point is Bright Angel Canyon, a long, straight drainage that provides the only maintained rim to river route on the north side of the Colorado.
- A few miles further east, Clear Creek forms a deep, twisting canyon that extends a long way northwards towards the distant Walhalla Plateau, above Cape Royal.
It was already late afternoon, it was cold, and the wind has picked up so after checking out the amazing views, we headed inside out of the cold to check out the Yavapai Geology Museum. It has big windows, so you can still enjoy the views inside while learning more about the geology of the Grand Canyon.
Yavapai Museum of Geology
The Yavapai Museum of Geology, also called the Yavapai Observation Station, sits one mile east of Grand Canyon Village’s Market Plaza on the edge of Grand Canyon’s South Rim and features breathtaking views of Grand Canyon, geologic displays, interpretive exhibits, and a bookstore with gifts and souvenirs.
The original structure, named the Yavapai Point Trailside Museum, was dedicated in 1928. A team of geologists selected this site to observe and understand the complicated Grand Canyon geology. It was designed by architect Herbert C. Maier who used local Kaibab limestone and ponderosa pine in its construction so it would blend in with its surroundings.
In the 1920s, some of the most eminent scientific minds gathered in the national park to select the best representative view of Grand Canyon geology. They chose this site and conceived of this building to showcase one of the world’s greatest wonders.
describe the complicated geologic story of the area. The Yavapai Museum exhibits explain the deposition of rock layers, the uplift of the Colorado Plateau, and the carving of Grand Canyon.
In 2007, the National Park Service re-dedicated the historic Yavapai Observation Station. Today the Yavapai Geology Museum exhibits explain the rock layers of the canyon, the uplift of the Colorado Plateau, and the carving of the Grand Canyon. Displays include artwork, 3D models, photographs, and interpretive panels. A large topographic relief model in the front room shows the canyon view in remarkable detail with true color and labeling directly applied.
Know Before You Go
- Yavapai Geology Museum at the Yavapai Point Overlook is located on the edge of the Grand Canyon South Rim, one mile east of Market Plaza, in Grand Canyon Village, Arizona 86023 in Coconino County in Grand Canyon National Park.
- The museum is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm (8:00 am to 7:00 pm in the winter).
- The parking area is small and vehicles over 22 feet are not permitted. It is usually full around sunset. If you want to watch the sunset here, it is best to take the Orange Shuttle.
- Yavapai Point Overlook provides perhaps the best panorama of the three points on this part of the south rim as it is the most northerly, and the closest to the Colorado River, allowing for unobstructed views up and down the gorge.
- In the Yavapai Geology Museum, view expansive vistas through large windows, discover exhibits about how Grand Canyon was formed, attend a ranger program to learn about geology, and visit the museum shop for books and gifts.
- One section of the South Rim Trail, beginning at Yavapai Point, is designated the Trail of Time and features markers and exhibits designed to give you a sense of perspective about the canyon’s formation, geology and history.
- Walk west to reach the Verkamp’s Visitor Center, Hopi House, El Tovar Hotel, Lookout Studio, Kolb Studio, Hermit Road, and Hermit’s Rest. Walk east along the Canyon Rim Trail to Mather Point, Grand Canyon Visitor Center, and Desert View Drive.
- The Grand Canyon South Rim, including Grand Canyon Village and Desert View, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- A free shuttle bus system operates on the South Rim connecting the visitor centers, parking lots, lodges and hotels, historic buildings, museums, and campgrounds with canyon overlooks. The Blue Shuttle serves Grand Canyon Village and the Orange Shuttle serves Yavapai Point, the Visitor Center, and scenic overlooks.