Navajo Hopi Observer MastheadDevelopers say Escalade project at Colorado River confluence on track

 

Katherine Locke
Reporter

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – According to officials with the Grand Canyon Escalade development, this project is on track to go before the Navajo Nation Council for approval in June or at the latest in July.

Looking upstream on the Colorado River from above the confluence. Confluence Partners, L.L.C. hopes to build a gondola from the canyon rim to the river as part of the Grand Canyon Escalade development on the western edge of the Navajo reservation at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. Photo/Confluence Partners

Looking upstream on the Colorado River from above the confluence. Confluence Partners, L.L.C. hopes to build a gondola from the canyon rim to the river as part of the Grand Canyon Escalade development on the western edge of the Navajo reservation at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. Photo/Confluence Partners

If the project gets council approval by the end of June, and the project gets through the permitting process, the project’s developers plan to begin construction in the summer of 2015 with the goal to begin operation in May 2017. The Navajo Nation took over leasing requirements from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, meaning approval and permits for a project like this comes from the Navajo Nation.

Confluence Partners, the project developer, refined the project to 420 acres located on the western edge of the Navajo reservation at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. The area is located about 100 miles by road from Interstate 40 and Flagstaff, Arizona.

The development’s main attraction would be an eight-person gondola tramway, which would deliver visitors to the Canyon floor in about 10 minutes. The length of the tramway is approximately 1.6 miles with about a 3,200 foot descent. A river walk with an elevated walkway would be constructed on the Canyon floor with a food pavilion.

On the rim, a Navajoland Discovery Center, which would be overseen by an advisory board, has been added with an eye toward telling stories of Navajos’ and other tribes’ relationships to the Canyon. In addition, a multimedia complex and an estimated 47,000 square feet of retail and restaurants would be located on the rim. Future development could include a lodge hotel, boutique hotel, multiple midlevel motels (all of which could total about 900 rooms), an RV park and a general store.

An all-weather paved road would be constructed. Water, power and infrastructure would also be available for the local chapter to build a community about half-way out to the site.

The view of the confluence from the location Confluence Partners hopes to build a visitors plaza. Photo/ Confluence Partners

The view of the confluence from the location Confluence Partners hopes to build a visitors plaza. Photo/ Confluence Partners

Water for the project would come from Bodaway Gap.

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