Why is Grand Falls Closed?

Recently the popular Grand Falls closed in Northern Arizona. This popular waterfall location runs seasonally due to snow melt.

Why is Grand Falls Closed?

Although Leupp Chapter House and the Navajo Tourism Department offer up no reason for the closure, there is a lot of speculation on online groups. Due to the recent snowfall and melt, the waterfalls are supercharged and running more than usual. Lots of people think that the increased visitation has left to disrespect of the area and lack of consideration for the native american land.

One Reason that Grand Falls closed May be Off-roading

In order to access the falls one must drive a dirt road. Driving dirt roads while they are wet and muddy is not recommended and generally frowned upon by those who use dirt roads to access homes or other more necessary functions; functions other than site-seeing. When the roads dry out after uses like these they are often unuseable, heavily rutted and far more difficult to travel than if the roads are simply left alone.

Others speculate that off-roading is happening in locations where roads never existed. Not only is this not legal, it’s disrespectful to land that belong to the nation and has a much bigger ecological impact for the future. This might be a reason that Grand Falls closed. explains, “Off-road vehicles can churn up soil, leading to ruts, damaged root systems, compacted soil, accelerated erosion, more frequent dust storms and/or increased sedimentation in waterways.” In addition to ground disturbances, off-roading affects vegetation and wildlife as well.

Another Reason the Grand Falls Closed Might be Because of an Influx of Trash

Local Northern Arizonans and native americans online and social media suspect that the sheer number of people visiting the falls lately has contributed to the amount of trash.

The photos on this blog are from a trash clean-up in 2017. There was very little trash being brought to Navajo Falls back then, very little visitation and at that point this place was still a somewhat of a secret. Our trash cleanups existed in the spring because that’s when the wind really moved over Northern Arizona blowing trash into Grand Falls and eventually the little Colorado River brings that trash into Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

Is Instagram why Grand Falls Closed?

Actually, many do believe that Instagram and other social media platforms might be responsible for increased visitation to this place. With the increased visitation brings more trash, off-roading and a disrespect to the environment.

Places like this and Horseshoe Bend used to be nothing. 10 years ago, the parking to Horseshoe Bend was no more than a little dirt lot and only a tiny sign marked its existence. If you blinked, you missed it. Well we all know it’s not that way now.

I met a woman at Antelope Canyon on the Lake Powell side. She told me that once upon a time, nobody knew about Antelope Canyon either. She went to school in Page and one prom night, she and her friends rode horses in their dressed through Upper Antelope Falls. Can you even imagine? Today it’s jam packed.

Is Grand Falls Closed to Permits?

Lots speculate that perhaps this will be a permitted location. In fact, many areas of the reservation are accessible to non-native with a proper permit.

Keep Up-to-date on why Grand Falls Closed

Perhaps non-official but I did find this information on Facebook page designed for Grand Falls Adah’iilíní 

Residents from the Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) and Leupp community have decided to temporarily close Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) to the public until further notice.

The closure is addressed to visitors and non-residential individuals; with the exception of State and Federally Recognized Tribes for cultural preservation purposes only.

Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) is located within the sovereign Navajo Nation tribal reservation, within the boundary of the Navajo Nation Leupp Chapter.

The decision of the local community is supported by the Navajo Nation Parks. Adah’iilíní is not under National, County, City, nor Park service.

It is the right of the local residents and community because they are Navajo tribal members who are Land Users and/or Livestock Permit Holders within the area.

The heightened popularity of Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) has resulted in an accumulation of overflowing trash, alcohol containers (Navajo Nation law prohibits alcohol), ATV groups off-roading into residential areas and non-designated roads, high tourism, deterioration of road maintenance, and disturbance of the natural ecosystem, its inhabitants, and cultural sites.

Please respect the local community’s decision on this matter as it is within their right to steward the land for cultural and preservation purposes, indigenous herbal plants, and ecosystem.

The Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) community is acutely cognizant of the spiritual livelihood of Diné (Navajo) people and neighboring tribes whom also reside along the Little Colorado River from its tributaries to the Grand Canyon Confluence. Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) is a sacred location to Diné (Navajo) People and tribes of the Southwest.

Any visitors who are non-resident individuals entering the premises will be asked to leave, with the exception of State and Federally Recognized Tribes for cultural preservation purposes only.

Respectfully, Navajo Nation Residents from the Adah’iilíní (Grand Falls) and Leupp Communities

Where is this Place?

The Grand Falls / Chocolate waterfalls exist 30 miles north east of Flagstaff on the Navajo Nation in the Painted Desert.

How do I get there?

Please remember, Grand Falls closed currently to visitors. It’s a pretty remote area that requires driving on a dirt road and 4×4 is recommended.

What is So Special About the Waterfalls?

These seasonal waterfalls are 181 feet tall. It’s actually taller than Niagra Falls. If you measure Niagara Falls from the base, it stands 70 feet from the rocks below though Niagara Falls are often measured at 176 feet. Currently, Grand Falls closed.

How is Grand Falls Seasonal?

The muddy falls are a product of snowmelt from the White Mountains region of Arizona and some years are dry and do not run at all.

Photos from a Grand Falls Clean-up 2017

On 3.4.17 many volunteers turned out to help cleanup Grand Falls. Every year International Rivers encourages people all around the world to be the voice of the Rivers they love.

This year we gathered as one to clean up a much loved section of the Little Colorado River where it creates the beautiful falls known as Grand Falls to some and Chocolate Falls to others.

This site was chosen because it is easy to access and it “has been gifted with our human waste” and is often a “dump site”. The amount of trash found here is atrocious and unfortunately it feeds directly into Grand Canyon and the Colorado River at a sacred sight known as The Confluence.

By cleaning up Grand Falls we are in turn doing our part to help keep the Confluence and Colorado River a little bit cleaner.

International Rivers Day of Action is March 14 (Tuesday) so in order to allow a maximum number of volunteers to join in we are holding this event on a Saturday before then.

For more information about International Rivers and their call to action visit this link:

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