Natural Wonders

Arizona Waterfalls Near the Grand Canyon

Waterfalls around the Grand Canyon can range from trickling water to a raging cascade, but they're fun either way. Learn about Grand Falls and Encinoso Falls here.

Okay, so Arizona, and the Grand Canyon for that matter, don’t exactly conjure up images of lush landscapes and waterfalls.

But there are a few waterfalls beyond the Grand Canyon West region. While on your Grand Canyon vacation, check out the following waterfalls. They are located in Arizona and if you’re in the vicinity of these waterfalls they are worthwhile stops on your travel itinerary.

Grand Falls

Arizona's Grand Falls (Chocolate Falls) at dusk.
Grand Falls also called Chocolate FallsCharlie Stinchcomb/Flickr
Grand Falls during the dry season
Grand Falls during the dry seasonPhoto by Phil Konstantin, Public Domain

The Grand Falls are located about 30 miles from Flagstaff, Arizona in the Painted Desert on the Navajo Indian Reservation. At 185 feet tall, it is taller than Niagara Falls at 167-feet which makes its nickname of “mini Nigraga Falls” a little misleading.

The fall feeds snow melt and spring rain into the Little Colorado River. It is famous for its extremely muddy flow which can look like flowing chocolate earning it another nickname “Chocolate Falls.” During dry seasons, the falls might be reduced to a trickle or be totally gone.

The waterfall is remote. You need to take a half-mile trail from a dirt road to access it. The Grand Falls Road crosses the floor of the Little Colorado River and at times during the year, only a 4wd vehicle can get across it.

A Navajo Nation hiking permit is required to visit the Falls. The site and the roads to it are located in the Navajo Nation so leaving the roads or trails is against Navajo Law.

From Flagstaff, take Exit 211 at Winona and continue for just over two miles to Leupp Road. Turn right and continue for 20 miles to an unpaved and unsighed Indian Road 6910. Turn left and follow the rough road for almost 10 miles to a turnoff on your left, which leads to an overlook of the waterfall.

Trivia: The Grand Falls was featured in the 1964 western movie “A Distant Trumpet.”

Encinoso Falls

Rare Encinoso waterfall after a record snowfall in northern Arizona in January 2010.
Rare Encinoso waterfall after a record snowfall in northern Arizona in January 2010. Photo by Annemari Romero [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsPhoto by Annemari Romero via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a 200-foot-high waterfall enjoyed after hiking only one mile. To get there, travel to Sedona, AZ, approximately 115 miles south of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.

From Sedona, at the junction of Highway 89a and 179, drive a little over five miles to the Encinosa Picnic Area. Note: This waterfall can be raging, or trickling so keep your expectations in check. It’s been suggested that spring might be the best time to view this waterfall. Either way this region is scenic and will get you back to nature during your Grand Canyon vacation, especially when you have pent-up energy to spend and want to stretch your legs.