Grand Falls Summer 2018

Grand Falls (aka Chocolate Falls) is an impressive but occasional phenomenon. An ancient volcanic eruption spread a lava flow which blocked the Little Colorado River's normal channel.

The river made its way around the lava field, and during the snow melt season or after a rainstorm upriver, a huge volume of water will briefly cascade over these cliffs and into the original channel carrying tons of chocolate-colored mud. It only occurs seven or eight times per year.

However--Arizona is a drought state, and while the second half of March is usually the best time to see it, I arrived on March 18 and there was no water at the site of the Falls at all.

To get here from Las Vegas, I had driven for four hours, then groped my way through a snowstorm over Flagstaff — a complete whiteout for fifteen miles. All that for a dry waterfall...

Still hoping to witness this phenomenon, in July of 2018, I monitored the United States Geological Survey web site with the water flow at Winslow (upstream from the falls by about fifty miles).

Suddenly there was a somewhat higher reading than the 3 cubic feet per second number I had been seeing. Then, on a Friday evening, I suddenly saw a reading of 1100 cfps. That is big, since locals told me that 400 is usually enough to start the falls!

I raced over to Flagstaff. The first day was still a dry waterfall and I took some still photos standing in the middle of the road which crosses the river bed. Ah, but the next day, the water from the 1100 cfps reading arrived. Local people told me that the stunning 4300 cfps reading I saw that evening would arrive in the next two days and the entire width of the cliff would be covered.

Sure enough. You can see in the sequence of videos that the amount of water flowing slowly increases, until the width of the channel has water flowing everywhere.

In July of 2018, I responded to an automated water flow alert from the United States Geological Service. Powerful water flows were being caused by rainstorms. Tat water was headed for Grand Falls!
This is the scene when the 4000 cubic feet per second of water arrived. The river widened, and the falls grew even more powerful.
Click THIS link to go to the 4000 cubic feet per second!

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