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Navajo Nation wants to build aerial tram into Grand Canyon
Sun Staff Reporter azdailysun.com
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The Navajo Nation and a Scottsdale developer are weighing plans for an aerial tram ride down to the Colorado River on the eastern boundary of Grand Canyon National Park.
A restaurant, trail, hotel and shopping area are also possible in the vicinity, 70 miles north of Flagstaff, according to an agreement between developers, past Navajo Nation President Albert Hale and current Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly.
The idea involves bringing tourists to a region where the blue-green Little Colorado River flows into the Colorado River, about 30 miles west-northwest of Tuba City.
It's a place held with special regard for its beauty as the spawning ground of an endangered fish and as a very important area for the Hopi Tribe, believed to be the gateway into the modern world.
The confluence of these rivers was also the site of a deadly airplane wreck in 1956, when two jetliners collided on the west side of the Grand Canyon and 128 people died.
Francis Martin is among some who graze livestock in the area, which is sparsely inhabited.
"It's sacred to us. That's how we felt about that place, and that's why we didn't want anything developed in that area," he said.
Martin lives in Tuba City now, but someday he wants to return to the place his parents lived. He doesn't benefit financially from the proposed gondola or hotel, and he's not sure what he would think if he did.
"I really don't know," he said. "I really do love that area, and the last thing I want is something like that there."
The current Navajo Nation president opposed the development at one time, Shelly's spokesman said.
But he has since had a change of heart.
"We need to develop businesses so we can create jobs and work toward being a self-sustaining nation," spokesman Erny Zah said.
03-23-2012 11:05 AM
I can't see this ever happening. The Park definitely wouldn't allow it, and it's 2.5 miles up Little Colorado to the boundry. Just guessing here-- but it's probably another 3.5 miles to where they would want to built it (Salt Trail Canyon area.) Can't imagine the type of tourists who want the tram ride would do that long of a hike to get to the Colorado.
Hey! They could do this and make mega-bucks! Just follow the example of the Sky-Walk. Have an investor/developer/contractor come in do the work and agree to profit sharing, then boot the investor out and keep all the monies for the Indian Nation! Not a law in the tribal books that says this is wrong! Good way to settle the score.
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I don't know. The Navajo Nation claims (and apparently has) ownership of the east side of Marble Canyon all the way from Lees Ferry to the Little Colorado. Even the NPS says that you must have a Navajo permit to hike anything within the park over in that section.
The Park definitely wouldn't allow it, and it's 2.5 miles up Little Colorado
to the boundry.
Other areas of the Navajo Nation do contain NPS lands as well (Canyon de Chelly, Navajo National Monument, etc.) and the Navajo do have much control over those areas and are allowed to develop them, graze them, live in them, etc., especially Canyon de Chelly.
Utah is a very special and unique place. There is no where else like it on earth. Please take care of it and keep the remaining wild areas in pristine condition. The world will be a better place if you do.
I hiked the Little Colorado Gorge all the way from one of the overlooks a few miles west of Cameron to the Blue Spring. There's a burly trail from the spring up to the top, all within the Navajo Nation. It's a beautiful place, and the spring is awesome. I can't imagine they would build it there, as traveling down canyon wouldn't be functional for the tourists because of all the wading and rough footing. Most would ride the tram down, look at the spring, and then ride back up. Getting people down closer to Salt Canyon would be better. They could charge for "guided hikes" to the sipapu. Perhaps hikes upstream to the spring for the more adventurous.
I'm all for growing business, but I sincerely hope this never happens. They should open those slots around Kaibito as well as make getting permits for hiking other areas easier. Tsegi and Paiute Canyons for example. TONS of ruins in those. But they seem to like making the cash as easy as possible. We'll see...
This story is picking up steam... just saw it on Yahoo! featured stories on its front page. Curious to see where it goes from here.
Didn't know the Navajo controlled the park on the east side below the rim. That's interesting. I'm actually surpised the NN hasn't built out roads to overlooks for that part of the canyon.
So, I was definitely not correct about the location probably being up the LCR drainage. Here's a little more detail from the article on Yahoo:
"The tram would run from the East Rim and parallel the Colorado River before coming to a stop at the bottom of the canyon, where a restaurant would be located. A half-mile river walk, also running alongside the Colorado River, would give tourists a view of the confluence but stop short of it. The resort hotel and spa, other hotels, and commercial and retail space would be located on top of the canyon."
The confluence, eh? I think you are going to get every environmental organization know to man beating the drums against this thing if it gets serious. Deep in the LCR gorge, maybe...but the main gorge? No way!
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The only ones that are going to be beating their tom-toms will be the Indians for the tune of more cash flow for their nation.
Originally Posted by Byron
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