It doesn’t happen often, but when conditions are just right, visitors who have traveled to the
Grand Falls in the Navajo Nation just outside Flagstaff, Arizona, learn why the attraction’s nickname is the “Chocolate Falls.” And that’s exactly what happened recently.
“Sightseers in Arizona witnessed a natural phenomenon that resembled a scene out of the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but they didn’t need a golden ticket to see the breathtaking sight, just some rain and a bit of luck,” according to AccuWeather.
You can watch a video of the chocolate-colored water rushing over the falls here.
Amazingly, Grand Falls/Chocolate Falls is more than 181 feet tall, according to the Navajo Tourism Department. That height means the falls are taller than the 170-foot-tall Niagara Falls.
What You Need To Know About Grand Falls/Chocolate Falls
Grand Falls/Chocolate Falls is about 30 miles northeast of Flagstaff in the Grand Falls Recreational Area. Most of the year, there isn’t a waterfall, just “a trickle of water” going over the edge, the Navajo Tourism Department explains.
Here’s why. The falls are fed by the Little Colorado River — with water coming from Mount Baldy, which is 140 miles away, and several other smaller creeks from the Colorado Plateau.
Since the falls are fed by snowmelt and rain, the best time to see water flowing over Grand Falls is in March or April, according to Flagstaff.com, because the water volume will be high.
On the other hand, the Chocolate Falls phenomenon occurs in the summer when there is sufficient rain from thunderstorms during the North American monsoon. When that happens, as it has recently, visitors see chocolate milk-colored water flowing over the waterfall — earning the falls its colorful nickname.
Indeed, “the monsoon has been very active across Arizona as of late, causing the trickling waterfall to be brought to life in a grand fashion,” AccuWeather reports.
Know Before You Go
It can be challenging to know when to visit Grand Falls. If you’re in the area, you can check the upstream river gauge operated by the U.S. Geological Survey to see if water is flowing.
“If the reading is in the thousands, plan to visit the Grand Falls within 24-48 hours,” the Navajo Tourism Department explains. However, it also notes that some water should be flowing over the falls anytime the gauge reports a flow of more than 200 cubic feet per second.
Also, the area can be difficult to reach. The Navajo Tourism Department reminds visitors to be careful in the area near the falls because the ground may look stable, but it could give way.
You can learn more about the Grand Falls Recreational Area, including how to plan a visit to Grand Falls, at the Discover Navajo website.
For more about waterfalls, be sure to also read our Niagara Falls content, as well as