I was having a Facebook conversation with a friend yesterday and my friend called the Grand Canyon Escalade a “monstrosity“. So this got me thinking, If Escalade is a monstrosity what does that make Grand Canyon Village? I checked on Wikipedia and according to Wiki (click here for link) “Grand Canyon Village has a total area of 13.4 square miles (35 km2), all of it land.” They got their information from the US Census so I will go with it as accurate. So anyway, there are 640 acres in a square mile so Grand Canyon Village is 8,576 acres. Grand Canyon Escalade by comparison is 420 acres. That makes Grand Canyon Village 20.4 Escalades all rolled into one, and we haven’t even included Tusayan, Desert View and Phantom Ranch into the equation yet. Escalade is 5% the size of Grand Canyon Village! So if Escalade is a monstrosity, I asked my friend, does that make Grand Canyon Village a grotesque, hideous, blight on the Grand Canyon? My friend still didn’t believe me so I went to Google Earth and pulled up a picture of Grand Canyon Village and sent it to her.
“Ok”, my friend said, “it turns out that yes, the official land area is 8,576 acres but most of it is vacant forest. No way Grand Canyon Village is really bigger than Escalade”. So to check, I overlayed a Google image of GC Village on top of the Escalade land use plan and put both of those onto Google Earth to compare. It turns out Grand Canyon Village is still way bigger than Escalade, 4 times bigger! I sent this to my friend to see what she would say.
“Well”, my friend said, “maybe Escalade isn’t as big as I thought, but what about the tram down to the Confluence. Isn’t that really going to disrupt the Canyon and be an eyesore?” So I downloaded a PDF of Phantom Ranch from the NPS website and took a look. It turns out to be 25 times bigger than the Riverwalkin overall area and has a raft beach, campground, dormitory, lodge and canteen, mule corrals, amphitheater, and even a sewage treatment plant. OMG my friend said, shocked., when I sent if over.
“So why are people telling me this Escalade thing is terrible and is going to ruin the Canyon?” my friend said. “It’s tiny compared to all the National Park Service facilities.” Well, it must be that its desecrating sacred sites, that’s what people tell me.” OK, back to Google Earth. I posted an overlay that is the same length and location of the Riverwalk and Gondola Tram stop onto Google Earth and sent it to my friend. Look at that I told my friend, Escalade isn’t on the Confluence site. It’s quite aways away. I also told my friend that the Riverwalk was an elevated walkway with railings, so people couldn’t just wander off and go explore, they were stuck on the walkway and couldn’t go near the Confluence.
We also looked at the land plan overlay again. My friend wanted to know how far Escalade was from the Salt Trail, another site that holds sacred status with the Hopi and Navajo. We put a yellow line from the entrance to Escalade to the Salt Trail trailhead. According to Google Earth it is over 2 miles away. Anyway I told my friend, you can buy a hiking permit in Cameron for $10 to hike the Trail and the Sierra Club offers guided hikes for $995 a person, so how is Escalade going to be different than what is already going on?
My friend was staring at the picture of the Confluence and said, “Hey, right there in the Google image, there’s those rafters again, the ones from Grand Canyon River Guides (GCRG) that are opposed to the Escalade. Look close, they have their rafts pulled up right onto the Confluence! I checked on Google Earth and my friend was right. Not only that, but the rafters posted this photo on Google Earth for us. “Looks like they are having a good time.”, my friend said. “I think those two on the right just finished… Well, sacred site or not, when ya gotta go… I hope their partners from SavetheConfluence.com don’t find out about this.”