It's a wonder of the world, a sacred prayer site, and soon, maybe, the home to a McDonald's and Forever 21. We wish we were kidding, but it turns out there is in fact a new development project in the works that would turn the "Confluence" area of the Grand Canyon — where the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers meet — into a commercial tourist megacenter. We're talking hotels, restaurants, a gondola ride and amphitheater, and yes, fast food chains. As if the GC wasn't super-sized enough.
The idea, developer R. Lamar Whitmer, and other supporters of the Grand Canyon Escalade project, argue, is that the Grand Canyon is currently more of a "drive-by" tourist attraction. For less-adventurous visitors, it's a spot for a neat hour long photo session, but little else. The new strip mall and gondola ride into the crevice would provide these guests not only the means but reasons to stay and explore the bottom of the pit.
In addition, the proposal promises the Navajo Nation "3,200 jobs, a road, infrastructure, and at least 8 percent of gross revenues," reports NPR.
The final verdict on the project won't be reached until next year, when the Navajo Nation Council will vote on the matter, but the project's many opponents have decried the mall as sacrilegious and potentially harmful to the Canyon's resources.
"That's where our spirits go back to," Ranae Yellowhorse of the Navajo tribe told the Los Angeles Times, "My father passed away last March. That's where he resides. If there is a development there, where are our prayers going to go?"
Should the project go through, not to Ronald McDonald, we hope.