Like the chocolate waterfall in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, these muddy falls are a sight to be seen. Known in the Southwest for its many tiers of water and wide stance, the Grand Falls are an incredible phenomena. These falls were created by volcanic runoff from Merriam Crater and created a lava dam. Located 30 miles East of Flagstaff, this waterfall wonder sits on Navajo Nation land in the Painted Desert. The falls are fed by the snow melt and rain from the White Mountains and flows into the Little Colorado river. For this reason there are only specific times of year that the waterfalls are actually flowing. The best time to see the falls are during March and April. This is due to the snow melt from earlier in the year. There is also a short period in the summer that you can see the falls due to monsoon season but the window is short and is highly dependent on the weather patterns on that year.
The Grand Falls are over 181 feet tall and known for the beautiful rainbows created by the impact and spray of the falls. If you are looking to spend the day checking out what the Grand Falls Arizona has to offer be sure to utilize the picnic benches and gazebos next to the edge of the gully. This area is pretty remote and bringing food and water with you is recommend. Just remember that you are on Navajo land and need to be respectful of leaving no trace including trash.
Being on Navajo land also means that there is a hiking permit required. Please look at the parks website for more details. This area is difficult to get to, therefor we recommend having a vehicle with four-wheel drive. The hike onto the gully is distinct and covered in black rocks. This hike is only a half mile long and easy, but use caution as there is loose rock. The Grand Falls Arizona is an amazing place to explore and some people even choose to hike around the water. But please remember to be careful and that places that look solid could actually be soft mud that could collapse under any weight. This natural wonder is worth the bumpy ride. Don’t miss this southwestern paradise that emerges from the Arizona desert with breathtaking force!
Directions to Grand Falls Arizona:
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). I recommend driving along Road 6910 instead of Road 70. Both roads are very rough going and you will need a 4x4 to drive them. But Road 6910 is much easier going and faster than Road 70.