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A Chocolate Waterfall Adventure

A Chocolate Waterfall Adventure

Grand Falls  northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona on Navajo Land in the Painted Desert. 

Grand Falls  northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona on Navajo Land in the Painted Desert. 

I had no idea anything like the Grand Falls (the official name) existed, but thanks to social media it appeared on my radar a few years ago. Like most social media things it also disappeared from my radar just as quickly. I marked my calendar to look for it flowing in March or April, but March and April came and went and I missed the falls. 

grand falls.jpg

Why those two months? They flow after snow melts or during the monsoon season of Summer. Lucky for me the falls started to pop up on social media this July and my chance to see them arrived! We had to be spontaneous and jump at the chance because who knew when we would get another opportunity.

On a warm Saturday afternoon my boyfriend and I took a drive down a long and dusty dirt road to the chocolate falls. Sounds like something out of a Willy Wonka movie? It was! 

This wonder seems like something only the desert can create. A 182 feet high, higher than niagara falls, waterfall of muddy water. Sounds uninteresting but it is the most beautiful image of milk chocolate colored water flowing fast over a desert landscape. 

How can you find out if the falls are flowing? Check social media? But maybe there is an even more reliable option. Water flow charts. 

grand falls.jpg

Check the water flow The graph will tell you how much water is flowing at Winslow which feeds into the Grand Falls. It's been running at less than 700 and based on instagram photos from same time frame there is a little water. 

The photos here are from a few days after a 4000 flow. So that should tell you how much water needs to be coming down the river to give you that spectacular showing. 

Our Tips:

  • Be Spontaneous: You might not have much time once you find out they are flowing. 
  • Don't follow Google maps directs. The directions from the Flagstaff website are below. 
  • Pack a lunch and enjoy the picnic tables out there. 
  • Don't drive past the lower parking lot. Even if you have four wheel drive. We spend a good half hour helping to dig out a Toyota.
  • It will be muddy so don't wear your best cloths. The falls spray a fine mist of mud. 

Directions:

Do Not Follow GOOGLE MAPS! It will add an hour to your drive! 

From I-40, 15 miles east of Flagstaff, take exit 211 at Winona. Drive 2.3 miles north to Leupp Rd. Turn right and drive 20.3 miles to unpaved and unsigned Indian Road 6910 (between mileposts 5 and 6). Turn left and drive along this rough road 9.4 miles to the turnoff on the left, which leads to the falls overlook (do not cross the Little Colorado River). Grand Falls can also be accessed from Indian Road 70 (instead of 6910). This road is located 15.0 miles along Leupp Rd (5.3 miles before Road 6910). Follow Road 70 8.4 miles to the same turnoff on the left before the Little Colorado River (Roads 6910 and 70 join together just before the turnoff). Both roads have sections of washboard terrain and are rough. A 4x4 vehicles is not necessary but will make the drive easier.

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