VISITING THE HUALAPAI INDIAN RESERVATION

The Hualapai (Pine Tree People) live on nearly one million acres along the South Rim downstream from the Havasupai. Visitors can experience a scenic drive into the Grand Canyon at Diamond Creek, spectacular viewpoints of the lower Grand Canyon from Grand Canyon West, and one-day Colorado River rafting trips.

Peach Springs
This community 54 miles northeast of Kingman on AZ 66 is the only town on the reservation. Peach Springs offers neither charm nor anything to see, but it does have a good motel and restaurant. Hualapai Lodge (900 Route 66, Peach Springs, AZ 86434, 928/769-2636 or 888/868-9378, www.grandcanyonwest.com, $80 s, $90 d, less in winter) provides comfortable rooms and a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Be sure to make room reservations during the popular April–October season.
    In the lodge, you can obtain permits to drive the Diamond Creek Road and information on Grand Canyon West and Grand Canyon river running, all described below. A grocery store and post office lie across the highway and a few doors west. Craft vendors may set up in the park across from the lodge.

Diamond Creek Road
You'll enjoy fine canyon views on this 21-mile gravel road, the only road access to the river within the Grand Canyon. It turns off AZ 66 opposite the Hualapai Lodge and descends gently to the Colorado River. Most of the way follows the normally dry Peach Springs Canyon, then in the last few miles sparkling Diamond Creek. Diamond Peak (3,512 feet), with its "faceted" sides comes into view about half way down. Except for river-runners, who use the road to take out or put in boats, few people visit this spot. Yet the very first organized groups of tourists to the Canyon arrived at Diamond Creek in 1883. A hotel built here and used in 1884–89 was the first in the Grand Canyon.
    If the weather has been dry for several days, cautiously driven cars can traverse the road. Storms, most common in July and August, may wash out sections and close the road or necessitate a high-clearance vehicle. A camping area near the Colorado River has a few picnic tables and some outhouses. Another campground is 1.2 miles before the river near the junction of Diamond and Peach Springs Canyons. Before turning down Diamond Creek Road, you must stop at the Hualapai Lodge to obtain permits. Sightseeing costs $6.42 per person (ages 6 and over) for day use. Camping is $10.70 per night per person and includes the sightseeing fee. Fishing or hiking requires additional permits at $8.56 each per person per day. Hikers can make only short trips in designated areas; ask a ranger first. Spring and autumn have the most pleasant temperatures at this 1,900-foot elevation; it's very hot in summer, but winter can be ok.

River-Running
Hualapai River Runners
(P.O. Box 246, Peach Springs, AZ 86434, 928/769-2636 or 888/868-9378, www.grandcanyonwest.com) will take you on a one-day motorized-raft trip down the lower Grand Canyon from Diamond Creek, lift you out by helicopter to the rim at Grand Canyon West, then return you by road to Peach Springs, $328 plus tax and fees. This is the only company to offer a day trip within the Grand Canyon. Two-day trips may be available as well. Rates during the March–Oct. season cover food, waterproof bag for personal gear, and transportation from Peach Springs.

Grand Canyon West
This airport and tourist center in the remote northwest corner of the reservation hosts many scenic flights out of Las Vegas, and it's also possible to drive out. Once you arrive, the Hualapai tribe offers a 4.5-mile bus tour along the rim of the western Grand Canyon to Guano Point, where you can enjoy a great panorama. The Colorado River lies nearly 4,000 feet directly below. Sheer, terraced cliffs rise even higher on the North Rim. The Canyon remains grand to the end, as you'll see. The Grand Wash Cliffs, which lie just out of sight downstream, mark the west end of both the Grand Canyon and the Colorado Plateau. One of the steel towers used in a guano mining operation still stands on the point, and another tower is visible below. The towers supported a tram that transported guano from a bat cave located across the river. The tour also makes a short stop at an overlook of Eagle Point, an exceptionally long and narrow neck of land extending out into the Canyon.
    Cost for a tour to Guano Point, Eagle Point, and Hualapai Ranch starts at $44.05. For $87.81 you also get lunch and the chance to step out on the glass-floored Grand Canyon Skywalk. See website for other tours and activities. Tickets, Quartermaster Point permits, and a gift shop are in the terminal building at the Grand Canyon West airport. For reservations and information, contact 928/769-2636 or 888/868-9378, www.grandcanyonwest.com. It's a good idea to call ahead and allow plenty of time, because this is such a long drive out. Or contact the Hualapai Lodge for information (see Peach Springs, above). Several fixed-wing and helicopter companies offer tours from Las Vegas, providing superb views of Lake Mead, the Grand Wash Cliffs, and lower Grand Canyon; check with operators there, such as Serenity Helicopters (888/589-7701, www.serenityhelicopters.com) for the many options.
    Getting to Grand Canyon West by road is also an adventure. Allow at least two hours one way for any of the four driving routes, which allow loop possibilities, or you can fly from Las Vegas. Buck and Doe Road stays within the reservation all the way. This dirt road can be rough—ask about road conditions before you leave. When it's wet, even 4WD vehicles should avoid it. Buck and Doe turns north from AZ 66 between Mileposts 100 and 101, 2.7 miles west of Peach Springs; follow it 50 miles to the end, then turn right 4.3 miles on paved Diamond Bar Road. Antares Road, also dirt but likely to be better graded, turns north off AZ 66 farther west from Peach Springs, between Mileposts 74 and 75; take it 33 miles, turn right 7 miles on paved Pearce Ferry Road, then turn right 21 miles on Diamond Bar Road. The first 14.4 miles on Diamond Bar Road is dirt but very scenic; you pass Joshua trees and enter a canyon through the Grand Wash Cliffs. Another back-road route involves heading north 40 miles on Stockton Hill Road from Kingman, then right 7.1 miles on Pearce Ferry Road and right 21 miles on Diamond Bar Road. The best road in approaches from the west; take US 93 from Kingman or Las Vegas to paved Pearce Ferry Road, near Milepost 42, follow it 29 miles east, then turn right 21 miles on Diamond Bar Road. There are plans to pave all of Diamond Bar Road by the end of 2005.
    Grand Canyon Western Ranch (928/788-0283 or 800/798-0569, http://grandcanyonwesternranch.com/) provides pine cabins, Western dining, horseback riding, cattle drives, and wagon rides on a historic ranch off Diamond Bar Road, seven miles east of the Pearce Ferry Road junction.

On to the North Rim