Navajo communities close Grand Falls to visitors
LEUPP, Ariz. — With the above average snowfall this year and the rapid recent snowmelt leading to increased visitation to Grand Falls on the Navajo Nation, nearby residents, with the support of the Navajo Nation, have taken it upon themselves to close the popular tourist attraction.
Located on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, Grand Falls is a natural wonder that attracts thousands of tourists each year. The falls, also known as "Chocolate Falls" due to the brown color of the water, are 185 feet tall and are formed by the Little Colorado River.
The decision to close Grand Falls comes after years of concern about the impact of tourism on the area. According to the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department, the falls have become overcrowded in recent years, leading to environmental damage and safety concerns.
Residents who live near the falls issued a statement Feb. 25 saying they were closing the area to the public.
The Navajo Nation Tourism Department has now posted on its website saying Grand Falls is closed until further notice.
“The heightened popularity of Adahilini has resulted in an accumulation of overflowing rash, alcohol containers, ATV groups off-roading into residential area and non-designated roads, high tourism, deterioration of road maintenance, and disturbance of the natural ecosystem, its inhabitants and cultural sites,” the residents said.
The Grand Falls Recreational Area is on Navajo Nation land and is maintained by the Leupp Chapter House.
Grand Falls (also known as the ‘Chocolate Falls’) is over 181 feet tall, and occurs when the monsoon season hits northern Arizona and during snow melt from the winter snowstorms. The falls are fed by the Little Colorado River with water coming from Mount Baldy, located 140 miles southeast, and several other smaller creeks from the Colorado Plateau. But, during the rest of the year, the falls do not appear, but as a trickle of water.
The road leading to the falls is not paved, but does have a maintained gravel road – a service provided by the Leupp Chapter House in Leupp, Arizona.
The Navajo Department of Tourism has not announced if or when the area will reopen.