March 28, 2019
Living on Northern Arizona University’s mountain campus provides students with more than just access to a great education—it also offers them the beautiful backyard of Flagstaff, perfect for adventuring in all seasons. The Campus Recreation department provides opportunities to explore the Colorado Plateau with a variety of group outdoor adventure trips, including rafting through the Grand Canyon, snowshoeing Flagstaff’s backcountry and exploring one of northern Arizona’s hidden gems—Chocolate Falls.
Grand Falls, more commonly known as Chocolate Falls, boasts a total height of more than 180 feet (that’s taller than Niagara Falls, to put it in perspective) but can only be seen during spring in years when there’s substantial snowmelt. With more than 117 inches of snow in Flagstaff since October, now is the ideal time to visit the multi-tier falls.
The landmark is a natural formation created by lava flow from the Merriam Crater resulting in a lava dam. The water, which is part of the Little Colorado River, is known for its chocolatey appearance caused by all the sand and clay it picks up as it flows through the desert and tumbles down the falls. As if this weren’t enough to marvel at, small rainbows are produced from the power of the water and resulting spray.
About 30 miles east of Flagstaff, the area has picnic benches and gazebos next to the falls but is fairly remote without restrooms or drinking water. Come prepared with necessities, including a good pair of hiking shoes to make the short trek to the river-level of the falls. The attraction is part of the Navajo Nation. It’s free to visit, but please be respectful and leave no trace. More information, including directions how to get there, can be found online.
Take advantage of life in northern Arizona—explore the surroundings, learn about the history of the region and create memories that will last a lifetime.