GRAND CANYON WEST - Grand Canyon Resort Corporation, wholly owned by the Hualapai Tribe, has announced that all lawsuits pertaining to Diamond Bar Road have been dismissed and that permanent paving will commence as soon as October. The 14-mile stretch of unpaved Mojave County road has recently undergone temporary improvements to include widening, smoothing and gravel placement to reduce dust output and provide more ease for visitors traveling by car to Grand Canyon West.
Diamond Bar Road is an environmentally and ecologically surfaced, treated roadway that is EPA approved, completely organic and surrounded by one of the largest ancient centennial Joshua Tree forests in the world.
"Having these lawsuits dismissed is a relief for us," said Sheri YellowHawk, CEO of Grand Canyon Resort Corporation. "We've had the funds in place for six years and to finally be able to put this project into action means tremendous potential success for our business."
The lawsuits were filed by a neighboring landowner against the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and Mojave County. Though not directly involved in any of the lawsuits, the Hualapai Tribe was required to put a hold on paving Diamond Bar Road until an agreement was reached. The opening of the Grand Canyon Skywalk in March increased automobile traffic on Diamond Bar Road to such an extent that in April, Mojave County approved temporary improvements so that Grand Canyon West could provide a more accessible roadway to vehicular travelers.
"The recent improvements to Diamond Bar Road have provided a smooth, safe route to Grand Canyon West," said William Cavenagh, CEO, Big Horn Hummer Tours of Las Vegas. "We've been traveling Diamond Bar Road for more than five years and applaud the difference these improvements have made."
The estimated cost of the permanent paving project is $20 million, $12 million of which will be paid with federal grant money that the Hualapai have been saving specifically for this project. The tribe was unable to request funds for other tribal roads, but needed to save these for Diamond Bar Road. The additional $8 million will come from future revenues generated at Grand Canyon West, as the result of the overwhelming response to the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
"As the destination continues to grow, so does the scope of what we can do to improve the quality of life for our tribe," said YellowHawk. Targeted projects include development of the tribe's first fire department in Peach Springs, and the installation of a new community-wide water system. At present, water can only be pumped manually and water restrictions are regularly applied. A forty-five minute drive is required just to wash a car.
The revenues brought in from increased visitation to Grand Canyon West will also apply to direct enhancements to the destination itself. Currently, the "Clash of the Bighorns" monument is being created to serve as a colossal archway that cars will drive under as they arrive at Grand Canyon West. Designed by artist Cameron K. Daines, the "Clash of the Bighorns" celebrates two powerful bighorn sheep going head to head in a dance of dominance. The monument embodies the spirit of the canyon and the self-determination of the Hualapai. When completed, the bighorns will measure 65 feet tall from the base of the monument to the top of their curved horns.
Another targeted project is the development of Grand Canyon West's own water source. Currently, water is brought daily in trucks from the nearby Arizona community of Meadview.
Pricing is currently structured as an all-inclusive package based on the prior visitor numbers at Grand Canyon West-an average of 400 visitors daily compared to 2,000 in recent months-but now, the growth is allowing for an "a la carte" pricing restructure that will allow the visitor to choose which components they would like to purchase, resulting in a lower priced entry package. The cost of the Grand Canyon Skywalk is currently $25 in addition to an all-inclusive entry package, the most popular The Spirit at $49.95. It is hoped that the new pricing structure, slated to go into effect in 2008, will mitigate any confusion about pricing at Grand Canyon West.
The opening of the Grand Canyon Skywalk on March 28 has helped bring more than 200,000 visitors from all over the world, including celebrities and government officials, to see epic canyon views and experience the Hualapai culture at Grand Canyon West.
Day visitors are not required to make advance reservations, however, advance reservations reduce wait times and allow visitors to pick up their tickets at Will Call when they arrive at Grand Canyon West. All visitors are encouraged to go to the website at www.destinationgrandcanyon.com prior to traveling to Grand Canyon West. There, visitors can learn about different tour options, pricing and get the most correct driving directions.
Attractions available at Grand Canyon West include The Indian Village with authentic dwellings depicting multiple tribes, The Hualapai Market, and The Hualapai Ranch, a western town with horseback and wagon rides. Grand Canyon West is the only location throughout the entire Grand Canyon where visitors can access the river and water recreation activities at the bottom of the canyon via helicopter tours. In addition to boat tours on the river, Hummer tours are available along the rim of the canyon and through private areas that are otherwise inaccessible to the public. There are more than 30 tour and transportation companies that service Grand Canyon West from Las Vegas, Phoenix and Sedona by airplane, helicopter, coach, SUV and Hummer. In addition, Park and Ride services are available from Dolan Springs, Ariz., a one-hour drive from Las Vegas. The Hualapai operate the only one-day white water rafting trip through the Grand Canyon as well as a Lodge on Historic Route 66. To book reservations, view a complete list of activities or receive maps and directions, log on to their Web site at
www.destinationgrandcanyon.com or call 1(877) 716-WEST (9378). The Hualapai Tribe, consisting of approximately 2,000 Hualapai members, owns nearly one million acres of land throughout the Grand Canyon's western rim. The capital of the Hualapai Reservation is Peach Springs.