Grand Falls or Chocolate Falls

Grand Falls


Grand Falls is sometimes called “The Chocolate Falls”. Can you just picture how it must look? What a sight it must be pouring over the cliffs! Grand Falls or Chocolate Falls is a unique waterfall system situated near Flagstaff, Arizona, in the United States. This marvel of geology is located on land belonging to the Navajo Nation. This waterfall is infamous for its extremely muddy water, which often gives the waterfall its distinctive chocolate color. The Chocolate Falls is a waterfall in an extremely remote location. Perhaps that is a good thing! The terrain surrounding Grand Falls is quite rugged which is appreciated by adventurers and Native Americans. The flow rate of the waterfall varies considerably, depending on the season. Access to the area is allowed by permit only (we approve!), and it is advised that only experienced hikers attempt the trail. Even experienced hikers are advised against attempting the trail to access Grand Falls without local Native American guides.


Grand Falls
Source: Photographer: Frank Kovalchek

Grand Falls Origin and Physical Characteristics

Grand Falls was formed approximately 150,000 years ago, in the region now known as the Painted Desert. Such a unique name! At that time, the eruption of a volcano formed the nearby Merriam Crater. Lava from the eruption flowed into the Colorado River and formed a natural dam. The resulting rerouting of the river created Grand Falls. This waterfall is approximately 185 ft (56 m) in height. The “chocolate fountains” you can find in restaurants can’t compare to that! During the dry season, the flow reduces to a trickle and sometimes ceases entirely…such a pity! During the winter, snowmelt creates an almost steady flow. Sporadic torrential rains would create an enormous flow for brief periods when they occur in the region.
Todd Sain Sr.