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Photographing the Desert View Tower

About 70 miles east of San Diego on I-8 is a 1920’s version of FantasyLand called ‘The Desert View Tower’. I don’t recommend the drive just to see the Tower, but be sure and stop there --with camera in hand-- on your next trip to the desert! And, try to time it to arrive in the early morning or late evening to get the great shadows. If you’re coming-up from the desert, it can be seen from miles away, but regardless of the direction you’re driving, exit I-8 at In-Ko-Pah Park Rd and follow the signs.

The Desert View Tower.

One bonus of driving to the Tower is you’ll see an old section of Highway 80 (concrete) and an even older section (asphalt)! I mention this because the tower is constructed of boards from the original plank road that once traversed the sand dunes.

It costs $5.50 per person to climb to the top of the Tower built in 1922-23 as a memorial to the Pioneers who opened the area with railroads and the old road. Included in the admission is a chance to scramble up ‘Bolder Park’, a rock trail with carved animals described thusly by the historical landmark plaque, “...this remarkable sculptural assemblage is one of California’s exceptional folk art environments.”

If you have a wide-angle lens, the Tower is the place to use it! On a clear day from the top of the Tower, you can see an incredible distance! And, you can get a 360 degree panorama, if you know how to stitch images together. Also, bring your flash to use as fill-in at the top, the staircase, and the relic rooms. Warning: the climb to the top is short, but not for the sick, lame, or high-heeled.

I saw no use for a zoom lens on the top of the Tower, but I used it frequently as I explored the grounds; there are reptiles and birds a plenty to photograph.

Smile, Rick

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