More Hotels on the Grand Canyon Rim: Good or Bad?
August 8, 2014 at 10:05 AM
It may be a remote national park, but the South Rim of the Grand Canyon has always been pretty well equipped with hotels. There's the El Tovar Hotel (above), which opened in 1905, right on the rim, of course. Dotted around it are other lodges making up the "Grand Canyon Village" with full and partial canyon views, and there are even a couple of motel-style options set a little back from the edge itself. But however many hotel rooms there are around the rim, they are almost always sold out months in advance.
You can also stay inside the canyon itself, at Phantom Ranch, but you can only get there on foot or by mule. But soon, there might be another way to get down - and more hotels on the canyon rim itself.
Ideas to develop the canyon further for tourism aren’t anything new - think the gulp-inducing Skywalk at the far off West Rim, which is run by the Hualapai tribe (who also have accommodation, but away from the rim). Now, both the LA Times and the Telegraph are reporting on something called the Grand Canyon Escalade, a proposed gondola ride down to the Canyon floor at “the Confluence, near Tusayan, where the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers meet. Down below, a restaurant and elevated riverside walkway would be constructed.
The gondola, planned for 2017, would be part of “a 420-acre development with hotels, restaurants, shops, car and recreational vehicle parks, and a cultural centre on the rim overlooking the Confluence”, according to the Telegraph.
Suffice to say though that not everyone is convinced, with different opinions among the Native American tribes of the area and concerns about sacred sites, as well as opposition from the National Park Service and environmental groups based on the ecological impact and lack of water to sustain this kind of development given Arizona’s intense drought. The same goes for another proposal for the town of Tusayan, with Italian Stilo Development Group having tried to develop the area since the early 90s.
The balance between allowing access to a site as beautiful as the Grand Canyon and preserving it for future generations is always going to be hard to strike, so something tells us there will be a lot more debate before anything happens. What do you think? Should further development be allowed, under the right conditions? Or not at all? Tell us in the comments.