Photographer's Note

The arid landscape of North Central Arizona hides a set of waterfalls that is taller, at 181 feet, than Niagra Falls. Grand Falls (also known as Chocolate Falls) is about 15 miles from the nearest paved road on the Navajo Reservation.

The Little Colorado River wends its way from its source on Mt. Baldy in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona to its junction with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. As it travels through the high desert, it picks up loose dirt particles, arriving at the falls with a thick, chocolaty appearance. Hence the Chocolate Falls nickname.

I arrived a little before sunrise and found the site might be more suitable for late afternoon and sunset photos as the sun was climbing into the sky at about the 2 o'clock position as you face the falls.

The best chance to view the falls in all their spilled chocolate milk glory is during the months of March, April, and May. But, as rain and snow are difficult to forecast in that area, a good place to see whether there will be a good flow over the falls is at the USGS website. Make certain the reading is above 100 cubic feet per second. If you are in the area and the reading is in the thousands, plan to visit within 48 hours.

There are picnic tables/benches with gazebos that provide shade – maybe take some food for a picnic. There is a waterless restroom facility – you may want to take a supply of toilet paper, hand sanitizer or extra water and soap to wash your hands. Take plenty of water for hydration and please "pack in and pack out" – leave no trash. Be wary of your footing in the area, especially near the falls, the ground might look stable, but could give way. Also note that it is a bit of a scramble down to the lower river level and that, should the water level allow it, if you decide to move in front of or to the east of the falls at that level, the tall grass and plants hide very sticky mud. I gained a quick 10 pound in weight around my shoes when I made the attempt.

The road leading to the falls is not paved, but does have a maintained gravel road. For current Grand Falls and road conditions, call the Leupp Chapter House at (928) 686-3227.

Note: The Navajo Nation requests that you please use Indian Route 6910 – south of the Grand Falls, do not use the Oraibi Road access on the northside from Leupp. Also, please respect local residences, their land and livestock, etc.

Additional note: As of today (4 November 2019) there is no fee for visiting Grand Falls.

ISO 400, 1/125th second at f/9, 35mm focal length

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Additional Photos by Mark Freitag (nagalaut) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 15 W: 0 N: 338] (586)
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