Little Colorado River Gorge

LITTLE COLORADO RIVER TRIBAL PARK covers the following areas:

  • Viewpoint 1
  • Viewpoint 2
  • Marble Canyon
  • East Rim of Grand Canyon

9.4 miles west on SR 64 from US Highway 89.
The Little Colorado River originates at Mt. Baldy in Arizona’s White Mountains and travels northward to Joseph City, Winslow, and Wupatki National Monument before reaching the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

According to maps, the Little Colorado River flows into the Grand Canyon.  There the resemblance ceases, for no two canyons could be less alike than these.  Visit the Little Colorado  River Gorge on your way to the Grand Canyon, and you will observe the striking differences.

The narrow gorge of the Little Colorado conceals an astonishing depth.  The walls are almost colorless, gray, grim, and forbidding.  The Navajos regard it as just a part of their diversified land.  The visitor, however, views it with admiring eyes and awesome wonder.

Both of the overlooks have rest areas with ramadas and tables to provide leisure for the weary sightseer.  Metal hand rails provide safety as the modern walkway takes visitors right up to the jagged canyon’s edge.  Numerous native vendors sell their handmade crafts at both overlooks, and with a stop at the Navajo Parks and Recreation Visitor Center, you can gather information on the area’s  rugged hiking and backpacking trails.

At Cameron, the river known by river guides alternately the “LCR” or “Little C,” can no longer meander as it has one most of its journey. It must stay confined within this solid rock canyon. Here it begins to make a very rapid 2,000 ft (610 m) descent elevation in just 30 miles (48 km) to the Colorado River. From a picnic ground and overlook is a fine view of deep, narrow Gorge of the Little Colorado River, the finely layered upper limestone cliffs contrast with massive sandstone below, evidence of a shallow sea 250 million years ago.


VIEWPOINT 1 – Shadow Mountain

This overlook has an entrance fee station. Picnic tables, restrooms and arts & crafts vending available. There are two overlook areas both along the way to the Grand Canyon. Near milepost 286 on HWY 64


VIEWPOINT 2 – Hoyee’ Adeetiin

This overlook is open and free to the public. Hiking trail, picnic tables and vending area. There are two overlook areas both along the way to the Grand Canyon.

MARBLE CANYON

Map of Marble Canyon area


GRAND FALLS

One of the hidden beauties of Navajoland is a little spot away from the highway, behind the dormant volcanic peaks a few miles northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona, out past the antelope that graze nearby on the tall summer grass. It is known as Grand Falls, and during the dry season it is a serene getaway of mudstone cliffs with a trickle of water. But during the rainy season, it is a roaring cascade you can hear a half-mile away. The Little Colorado River combines with runoff from the San Francisco Peaks to meander over hundreds of layers of rock at Grand Falls before dropping off to an oasis below, forming a stark contrast to the dry, flat desert which surrounds the falls. In fact, if a volcanic eruption half-million years ago had not poured lava into the Colorado, blocking its flow, the falls would not exist. The river regained its original path, but to get there it had to create Grand Falls. This waterfall is frequently dubbed “The Chocolate Niagara” because of its muddy brown color.

There are arbor shades available along the rim above the falls, but there are no picnic table or grills and you can hike down a trail—past several dinosaur tracks left in the sandstone millions of year ago—to get to the bottom of the falls, where the temperature are cool and you can peel off your socks and dip your feet in the pools that remain even in the dry season. Access is by several miles of unpaved Indian Route 70; off-road vehicles are recommended during summer rains.
Directions from Flagstaff: travel north on U.S. Highway 89, turn right onto Townsend-Winona Road for 8.1 miles, turn left onto County Road 419/Leupp Road, stay on this road for approximately 25 miles; upon coming onto the Navajo reservation just past Milepost 5 turn right north onto Indian Route 70, remain on this dirt and cinder road for 9 miles until you come to the falls.

A short trail leads down to the base of the waterfall. It is an easy and interesting trail to the bottom, and gives you a different perspective of the waterfall from close-up. A 33 mile drives from Flagstaff on Route 15, then Navajo Route 70 that leads directly to Grand Falls. The Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation does not provide backcountry permit to visit Grand Falls; they use to, however, because of lack of maintenance and maintaining because of distance they ceased to provide permits for the area.

 


COALMINE CANYON
This is a little Scenic Canyon just 16 miles east of Tuba City on S.R. 264 and north of mile post maker 337 next to the windmill is the view of the light, colorful mud stone and dark coal seams and bleached white rock formations, appears a opaline ghostlike forms, especially by full moon.  This magnificent canyon is easily missed if you are looking the wrong way or do not have a map.  It is known to the Navajo as Haa’hon’ooji’, meaning “jagged”, which describes the erosion patterns in the canyon.  Its top layer is Dakota Sandstone overlaying Cow Springs sandstone.  The Mormons began to Coal Mine here in the late 1800’s to heat their new homes in Tuba City.  After the Bureau of Indian Affairs built the boarding school, the old coal mine was reopened around 1908 to fuel the steam generators to heat the entire complex.  Because of the poor quality of the coal, however, it was never mine commercially, saving this beautiful canyon from the removal of it’s more than eight (2.4m) of coal.
Navajo Parks & Recreation does provide backcountry permit to Coalmine Canyon area; the upper portion of the canyon is Navajo Nation and the bottom portion is Hopi Tribe; the permit is only good for the top portion where you can view the canyon; if you are going to hike down into the Canyon then you have to contact the Hopi Tribe, inquire at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn and Suites; www.Experience Hopi.com; or www.HopiTours.com

 


EAST RIM OF GRAND CANYON

Any trails on the east rim of the Grand Canyon between Cameron, Az and Page, Az.

Map of Little Colorado River area

DO NOT desecrate Navajo lands and violate the trust of Navajo people by discarding cremated human remains on tribal property. Please respect tribal beliefs.

ABSOLUTELY NO BASE JUMPING in the LITTLE COLORADO RIVER GORGE AREA