The far eastern portion of the Grand Canyon along both the Colorado River and Little Colorado River falls within the borders of the Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation. Though “Grand Canyon East” is not yet formally known as a Grand Canyon park, many Grand Canyon visitors do end up passing and stopping for a view of the Little Colorado River Gorge. Upon exiting Grand Canyon South Rim from the East, you’ll soon come upon one such place: the Little Colorado River Gorge Overlook. A tributary of the Colorado River, the Little Colorado River (also referred to as The LCR) has carved a canyon of its own that, like the many canyons within the Grand Canyon, is a world of beauty and contrast unto itself. During the summer months, its mineral content transforms its waters into a brilliant ribbon of robin’s egg blue; during other times of the year, it displays an almost blood-red color.
Here, visitors can also browse kiosks, small shops or bead stands operated by the Native Americans, and shop for mementos of their visit. Further east of this overlook is the town of Cameron, Arizona where Highway 64, leaving Grand Canyon National Park to the east, and Highway 89 connect. In 1911, a modest suspension bridge was constructed across the Little Colorado River Gorge. In 1915, traders Hubert and C.D. Richardson opened a trading post, and Cameron soon established itself as integral commerce center for the Native American people who lived nearby, who came to barter their hand-made goods for food staples.
A visit to Cameron is more than just a routine stop on your Grand Canyon tour. It is a cultural experience; an opportunity to learn about the Native people of the Southwest through their arts and crafts. Still a vital part of the local economy, the Cameron Trading Post sells hand-crafted jewelry of silver and turquoise, colorful rugs patienly crafted on wooden looms handed down through generations, as well as pottery, baskets and paintings representing many different tribes. In the gallery, you’ll find one of Northern Arizona’s most comprehensive collections of Native made crafts. In addition to its retail store, the Cameron Trading Post also has a hotel, RV Park, convenience store, gas station, and a restaurant that has earned a cult-like following among people from all over the area, who gladly drive hundreds of miles to enjoy the house specialty, the Navajo Taco.
Can you hire outfitters to raft the Little Colorado River Gorge?
No, there are No Outfitters that raft the Little Colorado River. The main economic reason for that is it’s episodic flow wouldn’t support a rafting business. More importantly, the Navajo Nation and Hopi Nation would object to any outside operators on the Little Colorado River as it crosses into their land. Finally, the Little Colorado River does not lend itself to rafting due to the close boulders and short drops that are common in the Little Colorado River Gorge.