Japanese Tourists by the Boatload

One of many helipads that see constant use throughout the day

One of many helipads that see constant use throughout the day


Helicopters and unauthorized stairways and docks

The boat ride consists of motoring about a half-mile upstream, with a float back to the dock

The boat ride consists of motoring about a half-mile upstream, with a float back to the dock


One of perhaps 200 helicopters that came close overhead that day


This is what the Grand Canyon has been reduced to – Japanese tourists, by the boatload.

I yesterday posted commentary and photos concerning the proposed tramway development on the Navajo Nation in the Grand Canyon (“Save the Confluence”). This tramway would carry tourists from the rim of the Canyon to within yards of the banks of the Colorado River, at the confluence with the Little Colorado River. The Navajo Nation boundary is the high-water mark of the Colorado River. While the tramway base terminal would be, strictly-speaking, on the reservation, it would be located about as close to the boundary with Grand Canyon National Park as you can get. It’s presence would, thus, intrude greatly on the wilderness of the river corridor.

Imagine your neighbor installing a heavy-use tourist attraction – let’s say a water park –  right along his/her side of the property line. On your side is a garden that has provided you with many quiet and soulful moments. Well … that’s over. Actually, urban zoning would probably prevent your neighbor from putting in this kind of development. But, it appears, there is no such legal constraint on the Navajo Nation from installing a monstrosity – right along it’s property line – into the heart of the Grand Canyon.

Of course, there is a precedent for this sort of thing. It is the monstrous helicopter and pontoon boat operation that the Hualapai Tribe has installed in the lower Grand Canyon. In this instance, it is right up to – and over – the property line. The helipads are located within yards of the high-water mark; again, the boundary of the reservation. But, without the permission of the NPS, the Hualapais have constructed stairways and boat docks on the other side of the property line and in the National Park. For 3 miles along the river corridor, the helicopter clamor is insufferable. Floating through these 3 miles is an “Apocalypse Now” experience.

Can we possibly allow such to happen at the Confluence?

p.s. some of these photos will appear in my soon-to-be-published iBook: “The Grand, The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, a Photo Journey and Visual Guide”. This is a 2nd edition of my traditional book, that is now out-of-print. The book will be available through the iBookstore, for about $5.00.


About Evensteven

I am a photographer and author, and live in Embudo, New Mexico, alongside the Rio Grande. I have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: The Grand: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447 I have also published six additional iBooks: 1. The Salt River: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-salt-river/id12449222822. 2. Coyote Buttes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/coyote-buttes/id1271773201 3. Four Cornered, the Land: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered/id1384038899 4. Four Cornered, The Rivers: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 5. Rio Marañon: https://books.apple.com/us/book/four-cornered-book-two-the-rivers/id1402287568 6. Rio Grande: https://books.apple.com/us/book/rio-grande-new-mexico/id1469126321
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2 Responses to Japanese Tourists by the Boatload

  1. Jackson says:

    Yeah, the one time I went on down below Diamond Creek, that helicopter corridor was a lowlight of an otherwise spectacular float, some of the best scenery in the Canyon. If the Navajo want to market their portion of the Grand Canyon, they’d do better to differentiate themselves from rather than imitate the crowded, noisy, mechanized Hualapai experience.


  2. rivertraveler says:

    Just came through there last Monday with the crew of a motorized river rafting trip on their run out to the take out at Pierce Ferry. The helicopters were a disturbing, noisy swarm of mechanized bees and the glass platform (not to be named) installed by the tribe in one of the side canyons really looks alien. I totally support the idea of the tribes finding ways to get their share of the profits made from the beautiful scenery of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. After all, that used to be their native lands. I just wish it would be more in line with their traditional culture than creating another Las Vegas like Moloch corrupting everything and everybody around it.
    I truly hope that the “Save the Confluence” movement, the NPS and other people and entities are joining forces to prevent this development form happening.


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