When Teddy Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument, in 1908, he famously said: “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve on it. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it.” In that sense, the Escalade is a thumb in TR’s eye. Covering hundreds of acres on Navajo Reservation land, it is arguably the most intrusive development ever proposed for the Grand Canyon – a $500 million to $1.1 billion recreation and transport facility featuring a 1.4-mile tramway equipped with eight-passenger gondolas that would carry as many as 10,000 people a day down to the river confluence, with new roads, hotels, gift shops, restaurants and other attractions. The developer – Confluence Partners LLC, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based investment group whose members’ ventures include real estate, resorts and theme parks – says construction of the Escalade could begin as early as this year.
I’ve been to the Grand Canyon. It is one of the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, unforgettable, and, well, grand pieces of nature our planet has to offer. My friends and I stood on one of the edges, at six in the morning, off-season in late October, without any other people around, and we slowly watched the sun rise over the Canyon, slowly lighting afire the reddish rocks as the shadows of night made way for the Arizona sun.
It’s not something you can describe in words or capture in a photograph. It’s something you have to experience. Something emotional, and, I’m sure, for some people, something spiritual.
This project should not continue. Ever. The Grand Canyon must not turn into the horrid Canadian side of Niagara Falls.