Grand Falls near Flagstaff, Arizona, USA by William Woolf

Picture Story

Grand Falls is usually dry throughout the year unless the snow melt or summer storms cause it to overflow. It's sometimes called the "Chocolate Falls" because of the dark sand and silt that runs over the falls. It is located about 40 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ on the Navajo reservation (no permit was required for this wonderful site). An ancient lava flow from Merriam Crater formed a dam across the Little Colorado River years ago. Although the river normally bypasses this area, when the water is at a high level it backs up and flows into the original canyon. This was on my bucket list for several years when in March of 2019 a buddy of mine agreed to make the trip to Arizona. We knew it was about 10 miles on dirt from the nearest county road, and might require 4-wheel drive.

I was getting text alerts from the US Geological Service when the water became very high. We made a last minute decision to bypass Flagstaff and head for the falls. The dirt road wasn't that bad but when we got to the end of the road it wasn't clear at first where to turn. The road ended at the river above the falls but we still couldn't see the falls. After following another car to turn west we came to the top of Grand Falls. We walked around for an hour or so taking many pictures. There were only about 10-20 people there at the time. My buddy wandered off while I was taking pictures at the rim facing the falls. He came back and pointed me to the spot with a very nice composition. The sun came out to illuminate the falls just at the right time. Best bucket list trip we ever had.

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