If a dangerous new proposal becomes a reality, developers could build a massive 420-acre resort hotel right on the rim of the Grand Canyon with an aerial tramway shuttling thousands of visitors a day into the heart of this revered landscape.

In 2011, Scottsdale-based developer R. Lamar Whitmer brought together a small group of business partners to form Confluence Partners LLC and propose a resort hotel on Navajo tribal land on the rim of the canyon, along with an aerial tramway to take tourists to the bottom.

The company filed legislation on August 29, 2016 asking the Navajo Nation Council to approve a general master plan to construct the Escalade resort hotel and aerial tramway at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers.

NPCA is one of many conservation organizations that adamantly opposes this development because of the unacceptable and irreparable harm it would do to the Grand Canyon’s natural and cultural resources.

If this plan goes forward, there will be massive environmental impacts, including damage to the nearby Blue Spring from pumping groundwater and disposing sewage. The spring is the perennial source of water for the Little Colorado River and the only remaining breeding habitat for an endangered fish, the Humpback Chub. The resort would also bring noise and light pollution to one of the most isolated and pristine parts of the canyon.

The developer’s plan to build the 420-acre tramway and resort — including a hotel, restaurant and RV center — is not a new one. And like before, the company is attempting to entice the Navajo Nation Council into supporting its scheme with a $65 million investment of Navajo funds. The proposal was previously turned down due to concerns by the Navajo Department of Justice, and it is also opposed by the current Navajo administration.

While NPCA acknowledges the Navajo Nation’s sovereignty over development on its own lands, we ask that they consider and support local Navajo residents’ opposition and respect the agreements they have made with other tribes to protect each other’s sacred sites.

The project is opposed by the Diné (Navajo) Traditional Medicine Man’s Association and many traditional Navajo. The area is considered very sacred by many tribes and is a part of traditional origin stories. The proposed development is officially opposed by the Hopi and Zuni tribes and by the All Pueblo Council of Governors, representing 20 native pueblo groups.

The National Park Service has the authority to cooperate with the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department and support the creation of appropriate tourism opportunities. Tourism that respects local Navajo families, sensitive cultural sites and the values of this iconic national park could be a real asset to this region. This is not that opportunity.

Effort-to-date

  • More than 12,500 speak up in defense of the Grand Canyon

    Sep 2016

    National park supporters sent the Navajo Nation Council messages asking it to reject the proposed Grand Canyon Escalade project.

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