Escalade - header
Little Colorado River. Photo by Jack Dykinga

LCR dams - proposal maps

Project 1

Project 1 map

Salt Trail Canyon Pumped Storage Project

STATUS: Canceled

This proposal was fewer than five miles from Grand Canyon National Park and included two concrete arch dams, one across a canyon east of the Little Colorado River and another on the Little Colorado River itself. Details ›

Project 2

Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Project

STATUS: Canceled

Less than a half mile from the boundary with Grand Canyon National Park, this project also included two dams. It appeared that the project's lower reservoir would leave a Hopi sacred site underwater. Read more ›


Project 3

Map of Big Canyon Project

Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project

STATUS: Pending

Also on Navajo Nation land, this proposal includes four dams on and above Big Canyon, a tributary to the Little Colorado River. Developers say the Big Canyon project could replace their two prior proposals. Learn more ›

LCR dams - map (3 in 1)

Three proposals. Three terrible ideas.

Map of three dam proposals

The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers is sacred to many Native peoples in the region and awe-inspiring to all. These proposed dam projects, like the not-so-distant failed Escalade tramway, threaten to disrupt the spiritual and cultural practices of people who have called the Grand Canyon home since time immemorial. One of the projects (the Little Colorado River Pumped Storage Project), would have flooded a Hopi sacred site, a place where the Hopi people believe they emerged into this world.

Video - Little Colorado River Flyover

Video - Little Colorado River Flyover

A vital cultural and spiritual area

"This whole region … is culturally important. There are various shrines located in this area that Hopi people still visit to this day.” — Lyle Balenquah

Fly over the Little Colorado River as Lyle Balenquah — archaeologist, river and hiking guide, and member of the Hopi Tribe — and William LongReed — citizen of the Navajo Nation Bodaway/Gap Chapter — explain the cultural and spiritual significance of the area.

LCR Dams - What's the status?

LCR Dams - What's the status?
Shane McDermott

What's the status of the dams?

In May 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued preliminary permits for the Salt Trail Canyon and Little Colorado River projects. These permits granted the company exclusive rights for three years to study the feasibility of its proposed projects, and to apply for final licenses (no other hydropower developer could file a competing license in that window). In July 2021, the developer asked to surrender permits for the Little Colorado River and Salt Trail Canyon projects. In December 2022, FERC cancelled the permits. However, the developer continues to pursue the Big Canyon Dam project.

LCR Dams - project 3

Big Canyon Pumped Storage Project

In March 2020, Pumped Hydro Storage submitted a third application to study the feasibility of building another set of dams in Big Canyon, a tributary to the Little Colorado River just upstream of the other proposed projects. The Big Canyon Pumped Storage project would use concrete arch and earthen dams to create four reservoirs, one of which would flood the bottom of the canyon. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted the application on June 2, 2020. 

LCR Dams - Call to Donate

Help protect the Little Colorado River

LCR dams - what's at risk

LCR dams - what's at risk
Jack Dykinga

What's at risk?

If built, these dams on the Little Colorado River would:

  • Threaten cultural and spiritual practices of the Grand Canyon's Native peoples
  • Industrialize the Hopi Salt Trail and other significant areas
  • Rob the desert river of its world famous milky-blue waters
  • Threaten the habitat of the endangered humpback chub

LCR dams - economic boon

LCR dams - economic boon

The bottom line

From mines, to tourist developments, to proposed dams, profiteers have been trying to make a buck off the canyon since the 1800s. The company behind these proposed hydroelectric projects claims they'd be an economic boon to Navajo and Arizona economies, bringing billions in investment to stimulate jobs and growth. But the Navajo Nation, on whose lands the projects would be built, and other tribes with cultural ties to the area, strongly oppose the dams.

Grand Canyon Blog


Even a short journey of a few hundred steps offers a deeper perspective on the Grand Canyon.

Read More

Last year, 13 Native American tribes asked President Biden to designate a new national monument. Today, Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument...

Read More

A sacred site designation would discourage developers from targeting the confluence for trams, dams, or hotels. "Leave it as it is and respect it," says Delores Wilson-Aguirre.

Read More
Copyright © 2024 Grand Canyon Trust