The Desert View Drive is 23 miles in length and skirts the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive begins just south of Mather Point and heads east to Desert View. During the summer months, the drive can be crowded and parking at the overlooks can be difficult. The Grand Canyon shuttle buses are the only vehicles allowed on Yaki Point/South Kaibab Trailhead road.
At Yaki Point, you can get a great view of Granite Gorge. The pyramid profile of Vishnu Temple at 7,500 feet is prominent to the east. In 1882, Clarence Dutton began the naming of major park landforms after world personalities.
If you have the time, you can leave the shuttle and hike the South Kaibab Trail. If you decide to take a day hike down the trail, consider only going down to Cedar Ridge. The round-trip hike to Cedar Ridge can take 2.5 hours and is just 3 miles in length. Look for fossil ferns in the bedrock on the west side of Cedar Ridge. The South Kaibab Trail does drop all the down to the Colorado River, but it is not recommended as a day hike due to the difficulty in climbing in and out of the canyon.
Once you return to your car, continue on to the Grandview Point turnoff. From the overlook, you will have some of the most spectacular views from the South Rim. You can take the Grandview Trail 3 miles down to Horseshoe Mesa. Copper miners used to mine ore from the Last Chance Mine.
As you drive farther east to Moran Point, you will be able to see Hance Rapids on the Colorado River. This 30 foot drop in the river is one of the most challenging rapids according to the river guides.
Tusayan Museum is located farther down the drive. The museum has an excellent exhibit of Indian cultures. You can also take a self-guided tour of an ancient Puebloan village.
When you get to Lipan Point, you will have one of the best views of the eastern portion of the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River makes a large bend to the west, where it has carved through the Kaibab Plateau. The Unkar Delta was actually farmed by people during prehistoric times.
As you drive past Navajo Point you will continue on to Desert View. There you will find snacks, a gift shop, and the Desert View Campground. Be sure to climb to the top of the 70-foot Watchtower that was built in 1932.