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Smooth Sailing to Grand Canyon West with the Hualapai Tribe

Posted by Alan Stephens, Arizona State Director, USDA Rural Development in Rural
Nov 07, 2014
Hualapai Bird Dancers perform at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Diamond Bar Road. (USDA Photo)
Hualapai Bird Dancers perform at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Diamond Bar Road. (USDA Photo)

There were many things to celebrate about the newly paved nine-mile stretch of the Diamond Bar Road in Western Arizona, a road that links state and county roads to Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Reservation. At the ribbon cutting celebration for the completed road, Tribal, state and federal officials all noted the obvious benefit of the paving: The trip for the thousands of visitors every year to Grand Canyon West would be smoother and faster. Hualapai Tribal member Rory Majenty, who emceed the road celebration, pointed out another benefit for tribal members, “We probably won’t have to buy a new truck every few years like we used to have to do because of the rough road!” Tribal members weren’t the only ones dogged by the undulating washboard road. Visitors and tour buses were plagued by flat tires, bent oil pans and hubcaps that flew off into the desert.

The Hualapai Tribe operates the popular Grand Canyon Skywalk over Grand Canyon West. The glass platform juts out in a horseshoe 70 feet over the canyon and is an attraction that draws over 700,000 visitors from around the world annually.

The paving of Diamond Bar Road had been a dream of the tribe for many years. As the Tribe began to develop Grand Canyon West into a captivating tourist destination, they realized that the many visitors would need a more comfortable ride to the destination.

USDA Rural Development and the Hualapai Tribe have had a long and productive relationship. In 2010, USDA RD funded a water system to serve tribal members who were living and working at the developing Grand Canyon West. The $13 million loan/grant combination through our Water & Environmental Program allowed the Tribe to use other resources to begin the costly work of reconstructing and paving the Diamond Bar Road—a primary goal of the Tribe’s long term community economic development plan. The Tribe invested over $35 million to pave just the final nine-miles of the roadway.

The Hualapai depend on tourism, ranching, and arts/crafts to fund their economy, and Grand Canyon West is a compelling alternative for folks with limited time who wish to visit the Grand Canyon, a trip made easier thanks to the recently completed road paving.

Category/Topic: Rural