Updated: Jun 23
Navajo Point is located just a couple minutes west of Desert View Watchtower and the East Entrance Station. Not only does it have exceptional views of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, the viewpoint is only a minute’s walk from the parking lot. It’s a 30-minute drive from the Grand Canyon Village, and you’ll travel past numerous other viewpoints on the way (and you’ll drive through Kaibab National Forest).
In this post, we'll go over everything there is to know about Navajo Point, including its geological importance, directions, captivating view, what to bring, and a few additional South Rim viewpoints.
How Was the Grand Canyon Formed?
The Colorado River, as is well known, runs through the canyon's middle. This canyon is one mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 277 miles long due to the erosive action of this river over a period of 6 million years. However, there is a lot more to it. The Grand Canyon was formed during the course of six major phases. The Colorado Plateau's sedimentary rock was pushed up during the first phase, known as upheaval, by the same tectonic forces that formed the Rocky Mountains. On your road trip, you can easily notice more than 20 layers of rocks that are visible! You can see huge plateaus that used to be underwater from House Rock Valley Overlook, which I highly recommend.
The next stage is the erosion of the rock layers over tens of millions of years by the Colorado River and other rivers. This is how Marble Canyon also came to be. The canyon is very wide because of this meandering. The river, which originates from Lake Powell, is eroding the rock at a rate of 1 foot per 200 years, which is a fascinating fact. Morrell Falls, located near Seeley Lake, Montana, was slowly eroded until it became a majestic and isolated waterfall.
The sedimentary rock reveals how deeply the river carved through history in the third stage. The Grand Canyon's base is 1.8 billion years old! While some rocks are hard and can take millions of years to break down, others are weaker and will crumble rapidly. You can see tens of millions of years of history in the rocks at Point Joe Vista Point at Pebble Beach.
Geological forces make up the fourth stage. The paths of the rivers can alter as rocks move due to events like earthquakes. The Grand Canyon currently features different widths, giving visitors a very unique view.
The fifth stage is weathering. Landslides can occur when elements like ice, rain, and wind break rocks. On the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, this is how Angels Window was created; the soft layer of rock was eroded, leaving an arch of hard rock. We wrote a comprehensive article about Angels Window here.
Changes in climate represent the sixth and last stage of the Grand Canyon's formation. Temperature variations, precipitation, sediment deposition, and many other factors, all played a part in forming the canyon that we see today. Rocks that resist weathering can be destroyed by changes in climate.
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How to Get to Navajo Point
There are two ways you can get to Navajo Point, Grand Canyon. The most popular route, which passes close to Grand Canyon Village, Arizona 86023, will be discussed first. Take Arizona State Route 64 from Williams or U.S. Route 180 from Flagstaff to reach this location. These two highways converge at Grand Canyon Junction. Drive north from here. You can find a ton of lodging options, gas stations, and the Grand Canyon Visitor Center in the little town of Tusayan, which is 22 miles away (I highly advise having a full tank of gas for your journey). Grand Canyon Junction also has hotels and gas stations.
You will get to the South Entrance Station by traveling 1.5 miles north of Tusayan. Driving 4 more miles and keeping right, turn right onto Desert View Drive. The Grand Canyon can be seen at Pipe Creek Vista if you're unsure whether you're on the right road. If you want to stop at any other viewpoints, you'll also pass Yaki Point, Shoshone Point, Duck on a Rock Viewpoint, Grandview Point, Grandview Lookout Tower, Moran Point, Lipan Point, and Zuni Point. While some of these are hike-in destinations, others are only a short distance from the parking lot. Drive 21 more miles and 35 minutes and turn left when you see a small road like the picture below. There is a “Navajo Point” sign 700 feet before the turn.
The East Entrance Station is the alternate route to reach Navajo Point in Coconino County. From U.S. Route 89, turn onto Arizona State Route 64. It will take 30 minutes and 30 miles to get there. Drive on Desert View Drive for only 2 minutes and 1 mile after passing the East Entrance Station. When you come to a short road like the one in the image above, turn right. A "Navajo Point" sign is also present 300 feet before the turn. You will pass the Desert View Watchtower and the Desert View Campground on your way, which is absolutely amazing to go in if they are open. You cannot walk to Navajo Point from the Desert View Watchtower.
In the parking lot, there are 33 spots and 5 spaces for RVs (that could also be used for cars). There should always be spots available at this location; if there are not, some people will leave within a few minutes of your arrival. People tend to only spend a few minutes here and not take in the gorgeous view. Unfortunately, the shuttles stationed out of Grand Canyon National Park Lodges (operated by Xanterra) do not drive to Navajo Point, but they do drive to a few other spots on the South Rim, Grand Canyon.
The History of Navajo Point
In short, Navajo Point is named after the Navajo people. The Navajo Nation is one of the largest Native American tribes in the United States, and they used to live in the Grand Canyon region; they cover parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. Naming this unique part of the Grand Canyon after them shows respect for the people who have inhabited the area for centuries. They have shown a great respect for the land, and have a deep cultural connection with the Grand Canyon. We’ll now move on to the information about the captivating Navajo Point.
Navajo Point is 41 miles east of Grand Canyon Village and is the highest viewpoint on the South Rim at 7,461 feet (5,000 feet higher than the Colorado River). You will be able to look down on almost everything, which is why this location is so special. You will be able to see the Grand Canyon from the entire parking lot, with different areas offering different views. There are numerous interpretive signs that give information about the history, geology, and cultural significance of the Grand Canyon; you’ll enjoy this national park much more if you know more information.
There are a lot of trash and recycling bins, so please leave no trace (plastic that falls into the canyon may sit there for hundreds or thousands of years. Just like Moran Point, there are no bathrooms. The nearest restrooms are at Grandview Point, Tusayan Ruins and Museum, and Desert View Watchtower.
Head out to the head of the parking lot, and you will see the “point” of Navajo Point. You can see the Desert View Watchtower and Lipan Point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Vishnu Temple, Freya Castle, Wotan’s Throne, Angels Window, and Cape Royal Point on the North Rim. The walkway will be like the shape of an “n” and will be paved. There is a guardrail that will prevent people from falling off. Do not try to go on the other side because it will only be a cliff.
Navajo Point is absolutely amazing for stargazing and seeing the Milky Way. The nearest light pollution is from Tusayan or the Grand Canyon Village. Angels Window is even better, though, because it is so much more remote. If you ever want to go stargazing in Idaho, I recommend Goldbug Hot Springs.
Navajo Point is also different from Navajo Mountain Viewpoint, which is at Lake Powell. It looks like a cool spot, so we’ll write a blog about it in the future! For now, we wrote a blog about Wahweap Overlook and Wahweap Window, which is right next to Navajo Mountain Viewpoint.
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Bonus Hikes and Locations
If Navajo Point alone isn't enough for you, head two minutes east to Desert View Watchtower. You can climb the stairs to the top for scenery that is 70 feet above the ground, giving you a full perspective of the Grand Canyon. You can see how spectacular the sunset was when I saw it from here.
Shoshone Point is 25 minutes to the west if you're more interested in hiking. There is only a 150-foot elevation increase across the 2.1 miles of the hike. It provides yet another breathtaking glimpse of the Grand Canyon, and at the trail's end, you may carefully go out onto some rocks to get a better look at the canyon. The forested hike at Shoshone Point is fantastic, and hiking it in the snow was incredible. You will always be close to a fantastic location on the South Rim because it has so much more to offer than the North Rim.
When Is Navajo Point Open?
Almost everything on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, including Navajo Point, is open year-round. Be safe if you are driving in snow; many people are not experienced in driving in snow, so always be alert. When I was last there in March, there was an unexpected blizzard that messed up our plans. Luckily, it was sunny the next day.
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Packing List for Visiting Navajo Point
Sturdy shoes. You'll be walking on rocks at some point on this trip, so you'll need traction. I suggest wearing hiking boots if you want to get closer to the edge. The rocks could be slippery if they are wet. Bring some waterproof shoes because you might also be going through snow.
Sunscreen. You might be outside for a long enough period to burn, so put on some sunscreen. However, some shade will be provided by the trees. You might simply stay here for 20 or 30 minutes if you take some time to enjoy the scenery.
Food. You won't know how long you'll be gone, and we might be talking all day, so bring more food than you think you'll need. Include a filling meal and some snacks.
Water. Dehydration is not enjoyable, especially in the hot summer months. Just in case, bring more water than you anticipate requiring throughout the day. The Grand Canyon and Navajo Point both have summertime highs of 100 degrees.
Dress with layers. It can get cold because you are above 7,000 feet in elevation. Snow is included in this relatively late in the year. Bring warm clothing with you so you can keep warm all day. Frostbite and hypothermia are unpleasant.
Chapstick. It will be warm, dry, and windy. If you wear chapstick, the weather won't harm your lips.
Flashlight. Bring a flashlight in case you need it in the event that you are still out and about at night when visiting the Grand Canyon (that region with a lot of cliffs). You must be mindful of where you are walking to prevent spraining your ankle.
Camera. Bring your camera, and if it's a great one, I'd recommend utilizing it. You'll want to capture the breathtaking surroundings and your traveling buddies on camera. Take a selfie to keep a record of your visit to the national park.
Navajo Point is a must-visit viewpoint in Grand Canyon National Park. The view is one you will not forget anytime soon. You can’t go wrong with whichever way you drive here because you will drive through a forest and get frequent amazing views of the canyon. I recommend this location because you can look quickly and leave, or spend an hour here taking in the view. Grand Canyon National Park will be a superb trip, so don’t rush! You can drive the entire South Rim in a little over an hour.