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5 Reasons To Go See Arizona’s Unique Chocolate Waterfall

#1 Okay, so maybe it isn’t *actually* made of chocolate.

Flickr User Monty Jackson

Flickr User Monty Jackson

But, Grand Falls in Arizona is pretty incredible. It’s known for it’s characteristic muddy brown waters that crash over the edge and into the Little Colorado River. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons that the Little Colorado River is so opaque! You might be thinking, “A muddy waterfall? Who cares!” but this feat of nature is not one to miss. At 185 feet tall, it’s taller than the famous Niagara Falls. The wide rim of the waterfall is breathtaking, and the multi-tiered levels that the water crashes down make for a powerful show.

#2 You’ve got to time your visit to Grand Falls carefully.

Flickr User Monty Jackson

Flickr User Monty Jackson

Sometimes the waterfall is overwhelmed with powerful, rushing water. Other times…not so much. For example, during March and April, snow melt from way up in the White Mountains makes its way down to create a breathtakingly powerful waterfall. Snow melt, combined with rainfall, ensure that water steadily crashes over the terraced levels of the falls. Likewise, during the monsoon season of the summer, plentiful rainfall causes water to gush over the falls. Of course, weather patterns are unique, so a less rainy monsoon season might lead to a less than spectacular water flow. Since Grand Falls lies just thirty miles northeast of Flagstaff in the Painted Desert, there are many times that when the water coming over the rim slows to a mere trickle, or stops completely. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise, though, because during these times, the beautiful terraces of the falls are laid bare for all to see.

#3 Be sure to get a hiking permit before you head out.

Flickr User Jeff Peters, photo by Darren White

Flickr User Jeff Peters, photo by Darren White

Grand Falls was formed when lava flowing from nearby Merriam Crater dammed up the Little Colorado River. When the water found it’s way back to the river, Grand Falls had been created! These days, the falls are part of the Navajo Nation. Grab a hiking permit before hand, be sure to stay on the roads and trails, and you’ll be good to go! Grand Falls can be notoriously tricky to find. No paved roads lead to the falls, so taking a 4×4 is highly recommended. Depending on which route you choose to take, you might even cross the floor of the little Colorado River. This route is better left for Navajo guides and experienced back country people driving 4×4’s, though. If you’re an amateur or in a passenger car, don’t despair. You can make it to the falls fairly easily by staying on the south side of the river!

#4 Don’t be afraid to explore!

Flickr User Ken Peterson

Flickr User Ken Peterson

Once you make it to Grand Falls, there are plenty of beautiful vistas to be had. An easy, half mile trail will make sure that you don’t miss any of the stunning angles. If you’re there while the falls has plenty of water to fuel it, you can make your way to the bottom for a glorious view, and even feel the spray. Grand Falls is well known for creating rainbows that arch across the edge and make for a spectacular photo. The sound of the rushing waterfall alone is part of the experience. If you choose to visit when the falls is dry or merely a trickle, you’ll be able to (carefully!) explore the terraces of the waterfall. What an awesome adventure: to explore somewhere that is often hidden beneath a powerful stream of water.

#5 Hang out and enjoy the view! 

Flickr User CEBImagery

Flickr User CEBImagery

There’s a reason that people seek out the not-so-easily-found Grand Falls. It’s worth the effort! Once you’ve made the trek out to locate this natural wonder, why not hang around and enjoy it for a while? Near the killer viewpoints you’ll find picnic tables and gazebos. Bring along a snack and a drink for lunch, find a spot to make yourself at home and let the soothing rush of water or the dazzling drop of the waterfall relax you. Remember to be respectful when visiting this awesome location, or any other natural wonder. If you leave no traces, the next visitor will get to experience the beautiful Grand Falls as it should be!

Cheyenne Reed

Cheyenne Reed was born and raised in Ohio. She recently relocated to rural Wyoming to try out working at an exclusive guest ranch. She graduated from Kent State University with an English degree, and most enjoys writing about travel. If she has free time, you may run into her anywhere, because she is always itching to explore new places. Her personal motto is, "Any day can be an adventure if you make it one!"

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