Grandview Benchmark 7,540′
Total Time: 1.5 hours
Roundtrip Mileage: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 400′
Trailhead: FR 310
Companions: Holly, Brian Joseph
Grandview Lookout Tower is one of four Lookout Towers in Grand Canyon National Park. Originally constructed in the 1930s, the tower is hidden in the forest a few miles southeast of Grandview Point and easily accessible by fire road. The tower can be reached from a network of forest service roads out of Tusayan, or via a short drive from South Rim road within the park. The dirt road is well traveled and passable by virtually all cars, and the area makes for great, free camping for anyone visiting the canyon. While I typically don’t write about such short hikes, this one was so enjoyable that I felt the urge to share. After subjecting the others to the brushy and steep outing on Berry Butte, I felt I needed to redeem myself with something a bit more enjoyable. While you could drive to the base of the tower directly, we drove a very short ways down the fire road before parking and deciding to hike the rest.
The road was fairly flat, and we hiked along with our morning coffees, crossing from the National Park into the National Forest via an open gate. Past the gate, a number of campers were breaking camp for the day, and we waved hello as we walked past. Aside from a small burn area, the hike along the dirt road was very pleasant, with patches of oak trees changing color for fall. It wasn’t long before we reached the base of the lookout tower, which also served as a trailhead for a segment of the Arizona Trail.
The lookout tower was one of the taller ones I’ve been to in Arizona, over 80′ tall, and we started up the steel steps towards the top. Access to the tower itself was locked, so we sat on the upper steps and took in the views across the Coconino Plateau, the San Francisco Peaks to the South, and the Kaibab Plateau and North Rim, with some of the larger features such as Vishnu Temple just in view.
After a small snack, we headed back down the tower, stopped in the trailhead pit toilets, then headed back up to the road to the car. The traffic down the road was increasing in the late morning, kicking up an unfortunately amount of dust, really the only negative of the short hike. Reaching the car, we headed back into the park, then south towards Flagstaff to hike the small cinder cone Red Mountain before heading into Flagstaff for dinner.