A report in an American paper at the weekend revealed that plans have been submitted that could change the look of The Grand Canyon, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, for ever. The plans involve a 420 acre area of land adjacent to the eastern area of this area which lies on Navajo Indian land.

The Grand Canyon Escalade project would see a series of hotels, shops and restaurants being built, along with a construction that would allow an eight-person gondola to journey down to the canyon floor. At the bottom they would then be able to walk along an elevated riverside walkway to another restaurant which would lie at the confluence of the Little Colorado and Colorado rivers.

The area currently has almost five million visitors a year, and if plans are approved then it is hoped that the new development would attract a further three million to this total.

The US Park Service are opposed to the scheme on the grounds that it would have a serious adverse affect of the entire area’s views, as it is located just two miles from the park itself. They fear that a project of the size and scope that is being proposed would impact on the visitor experience. This has been countered by the head of the proposed scheme who feels that ‘the park service offers nothing more than a drive-by experience and that the average person can’t ride a mule to the bottom of the canyon. We want them to feel the canyon from the bottom’ and that the gondola is the best way of transporting people, giving them a chance to see the park from a different perspective.

The project has consulted with local Navajo tribe elders and they see the project as a way of creating jobs, especially for the younger members of the tribe so that that can live and work nearer to home. The development would obviously create a major source of income for them. The next step for this project is a vote by the Navajo tribal government and if it is given the go ahead then the US government will have to consider their response. It is likely that it will end in a legal dispute based on where federal jurisdiction begins around the Colorado and where the Navajo land ends.

So if you want to experience this area of the world as it was supposed to be, put on your Karrimor Mendip walking boots on, book a flight and get over the Pond as soon as you can. If this is passed then you might get to go to see the Grand Canyon but it might not be what you are expecting.