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Feb 23rd
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Home National & State Parks Grand Canyon Renovated Historic Yavapai Observation Station at Grand Canyon National Park Offers Breathtaking Views

Renovated Historic Yavapai Observation Station at Grand Canyon National Park Offers Breathtaking Views

South Rim Observation Point One of the First Interpretive and Educational Facilities in the National Park System

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For nearly 80 years, visitors to the Grand Canyon have stopped at the Yavapai Point Trailside Museum to take in some of the breathtaking beauty and scope of one of the West's incredible natural wonders.

Since its opening in 1928, Yavapai Point's pueblo-style architecture and semi-circular observation terrace became one of the South Rim's most well known facilities for experiencing the Grand Canyon. Time and wear, however, began taking a toll on the buildings and for several years now, efforts have been going on to preserve and upgrade the facility.
On May 24, 2007, all the cooperative hard work came to fruition as representatives from several organizations came together to rededicate a much improved Grand Canyon National Park Yavapai Observation Station.

"We begin to comprehend not simply this place, but a whole planet," said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett during dedication ceremonies. "Layer by layer, we walk through 1.7 billion years of time - a stretch of time nearly half the age of this Earth."

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act allowed for more than $1.5 million to be dedicated to the structural rehabilitation, and more than $300,000 to the exhibit redesign of Yavapai Observation Station.

Renovations to the building included stone work, the replacement of the roof, log beams and exterior lighting; installation of a fire detection and sprinkler system and more efficient interior lighting; and improvements to the asphalt pathways.

A large component of recent renovations was the installation of all new multimedia exhibits. Displays include beautifully crafted artwork, powerful photographs, and interpretive text, which allow visitors to see and understand the canyon's geologic story.

Visitors can view a Colorado River video, which explains erosion, rock movement and sedimentation. A computer-enhanced movie of plateau building and sea encroachment displays millions of years of geological events in less than 30 seconds.

"A lot of effort went into these renovations and the displays help bring the canyon alive for visitors," said Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent Steve Martin.

Yavapai Observation Station not only is significant for its role as a groundbreaking interpretive structure, but also for its rustic architecture. Inspired by the work of renowned architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, Herbert C. Maier designed the building to blend into its setting and used indigenous Kaibab limestone and ponderosa pine in its construction.

"Its architecture reminds us of human achievement and our powers of perception, creation and contemplation," said Scarlett.

The museum's site was originally selected by a team of noted scientists and scholars led by John C. Merriam, who was also instrumental in securing grant funding for the project from the American Association of Museums.

An exhibit is dedicated to these early leaders, whose vision encouraged the cooperative funding and philanthropic efforts that brought this building to fruition. Funding for current renovations comes directly from park entrance fees through the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

The Yacapai Observation Point building allows visitors to experience the grandeur of the canyon while giving them the tools to understand the geology. It's quite a view. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the drop to the Colorado River below is 4,600 feet (1,400 m).

The building's importance to the Grand Canyon National Park, and the history as a service, is expressed in the founders' significance statement: "The Yavapai Observation Station is a spectacularly designed example of the Park Service's pursuit of a singular and aesthetically appropriate architecture for the park system."


Park Operating Hours and Seasons

The Grand Canyon National Park's South Rim is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All visitor services: camping, lodging, and restaurants are available year round. Reservations are strongly recommended during the busy summer season. Some facilities are closed during the winter.

A free shuttle bus system operates in the Grand Canyon Village area. Make your visit easier by parking your car and using the shuttle to get around. Make sure you stop at the park's visitor center at Canyon View Information Plaza, which is reached only by shuttle.

The average distance across the canyon "as the condor flies" is ten miles (16 km). However, traveling from the North Rim to the South Rim requires a five-hour drive of 215 miles (345 km).

Campground reservations for Grand Canyon are available at

For more information about Grand Canyon National Park, visit the park's web site at

National & State Parks