After seeing photos of the chocolate flow of Grand Falls I thought about bringing a big cup.
Had to shop on my three days off and buying healthy food means a long drive to somewhere from the North Rim of Grand Canyon. So why not Flagstaff, a mere four hours away, where there is a Natural Grocers and a day trip to Grand Falls. Plus I had enough points for two free nights at Marriott. Not bad.
About 30-40 miles northeast of Flagstaff, depending on what you read and I forgot to check the odometer, and an hour drive brought me to the Chocolate Falls. Just north of town off State Route 89 I headed east on the paved Townsend-Winona Road with ominous clouds hanging overhead to Leupp Road. After about 15 miles I watched carefully for Indian Road 70 where I saw a sign for the Grand Falls Bible Church and turned north.
I crossed a barren landscape with few homes over the graded road of broken up lava past cinder cones with the Painted Desert in the far distance.
Then came to a small pond, or large puddle, across the road that was too deep to drive.
A couple had walked around it and found safe passage so after watching them navigate the route I followed.
Sun streaked through the clouds over the San Francisco Peaks as the road continued to rumble along through what can only be described as desert with no clues that a river runs through it.
Until, without 4×4 or less smarts than I give myself credit for, the muddy flow of the Little Colorado River blocked going any further.
So I parked and began walking down stream but on the higher ground that parallels the river headed for an obvious overlook. The semi-trail took me over the craggy and broken old lava flow responsible for creating Grand Falls about 20,000 years ago when now extinct vents pushed lava across the Little Colorado River altering its course.
The roar of the falls drowned out all other sounds as the water disappeared over a ledge dropping 185 feet (56 m) to the river below.
And this isn’t even full flow.
Watching lightning in the distance I tried to get a shot yet even with video had no luck.
I walked around the horseshoe shaped lava flow to various viewpoints of the falls. Sure glad the wind wasn’t blowing any stronger or I’d have been covered with a fine chocolate mist. There are picnic tables under shelters that provide different views but I didn’t find the road to them until I was leaving.
The clouds were coming in fast and I didn’t want to get stuck out there in a storm so headed back to my truck. I really wanted to stay for sunset but was the only one there and although that was very cool it was also a little eerie being out there alone. I think next time you should go with me.
As I headed back to Flagstaff the sun shone on the San Francisco Peaks as if to wish me a good evening.
I wouldn’t recommend going to Grand Falls during or immediately after a very heavy rain even with a 4×4. And during dry months no water flows here at all. Yet it was certainly worth the bumpy drive to see the chocolate flow of Grand Falls.
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