The Outside Blog

Adventure

Should the Grand Canyon Have a Tram?

Grand_canyon_development_prop_NPSGrand Canyon   Photo: Grand Canyon NPS

The East Rim of the Grand Canyon, where the Little Colorado River meets the Colorado River, is a remote, quiet area, especially compared to the crowded Southern Rim. But it might not remain that way.

The 27,000 square-mile Navajo reservation is adjacent to the National Park and Navajo President Ben Shelly in late February signed a memorandum of agreement with a development company Confluence Partners, LLC, that could turn the area around the East Rim into a tourist attraction, reports the Associated Press. The plans include a resort hotel, spa, and RV park. There's also a proposal to build an aerial tram that would bring visitors from the rim of the canyon all the way down to the riverside, where they could get a meal at a new restaurant.

Unsurprisingly, the National Park Service as well as environmental groups are raising red flags.

The proposed development is projected to bring up to $70 million a year in revenue to the tribe and 2,000 jobs. But Grand Canyon park officials and local river guides are concerned that with the development would come enough noise and other types of pollution to negatively impact the area's wildlife—aside from altering the character of the East Rim of the park, which is where visitors who are looking for a backcountry experience often head.

But the real fight might come down to boundaries. The A.P. story says: "The proposed attractions could create a jurisdictional dispute, depending on their distance from the Colorado River. The Navajos believe the reservation extends to the high water mark of the Colorado River, while the National Park Service says its boundary is a quarter-mile from the river's bank along the 61-mile stretch of the Colorado before it meets the Little Colorado."

Grand Canyon, From ShutterstockThe Grand Canyon, Picture Via Shutterstock

Shelly has vowed to protect the preserve the sacred Navajo areas in and around the proposed site -- known by locals as the confluence. He also initially opposed any development there, and has not approved all of the developer's plans, having verbally rejected the construction of an airport.

The Navajo people are also not in agreement over the proposal. Some would like the land to remain untouched, but others see the plans as a path to prosperity.

--Mary Catherine O'Connor
@mcoc 



Subscribe
to Outside
Save Over
70%

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!

Categories

GUIDES

Find the Best

Previous Posts

2014

2013

2012

Blog Roll

Recent Comments

  1. John Morris commented on

    The Top Five Tips on...

    Thank you very good and a healthy...

  2. CJ commented on

    The Top Five Tips on...

    This is great information, although I...

  3. Pedro commented on

    Hydrate or Cry: Make...

    Is this a 6% drink like Gatorade? How...

Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.