Grand Canyons West Diamond Bar Road – The Road to Skywalk, Part 1

Diamond Bar Road and Grand Canyons West:
The Road to Skywalk, Part 1

The Hualapai people have always known their land was special, and over the years they shared the views of the Grand Canyons at a place they call Quartermaster Point.

This was only available to the small handful of people willing to challenge Diamond Bar Road.

Not even a road, really… much of the travel was up a dry stream bed – the Diamond Bar Wash beside the Grand Wash Cliffs. (Also known by some as the Grand Wash.)

Diamond Bar Road was named after Diamond Bar Ranch, now the Grand Canyon Ranch.

In the late 1800’s Wellington Starky started a cattle ranch and called it Diamond Bar Ranch. He settled there because of the natural springs that provided water year-round. The springs had been known to Native Americans for the last 3,600 years; the indians called the springs, ‘Tanyaka Springs’ or ‘Grass Springs’, and with the establishment of the Diamond Bar Ranch, they began to be called the Diamond Bar Springs.

From the 1870’s onwards the Mormons used the springs as a resting and watering place for the wagons which used Diamond Bar Road.

This was before the Diamond Bar Road was paved from Pierce Ferry Road – which means it was nearly 40 miles on a rough, un-improved road from Pierce Ferry Road to Quartermaster Point.

(Pierce Ferry Road is the road you take east from Arizona Highway 93 through Dolan Springs, AZ, to the Grand Canyon West Rim. Highway 93 is the main highway from Las Vegas to Kingman.)

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Grand Wash Cliffs in the distance

Over 20 miles of Diamond Bar Road goes up through the Grand Wash Cliffs. For most of that distance, the touring vans actually drove up the dry washes, because in many sections there was no really a road at all.

And when the summer monsoons would create flash floods down the Grand Wash, the road would be closed for days at a time.

(Of Special Interest: The ONLY road in the entire Grand Canyon that you can actually drive from the top of the Grand Canyon to the bottom is from the Hualapai village of Peach Springs, down the wash all the way to where you can put your feet into the Colorado River – is 23 miles of narrow, winding, gravel road through a wash similar to that of Diamond Bar Road. Travel is allowed by permit only; permits are available from the Hualapai at Peach Springs, Arizona.)

The road conditions were – and still are – very tough on touring vans, drivers, and passengers. Diamond Bar Road discouraged nearly all tour companies from going there, and it effectively kept people away from the Hualapai Nation’s remarkable Land of the Grand Canyons.

We had to drive around the thousands of sharp rocks 2-inches or larger, and the washboard condition of the road after a rain was a real challenge for standard highway tires.

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Trail to Quartermaster Point, Grand Canyons West

The wind lifts the fine dust from the road as you drive, and it follows you up or down the wash.

If you were following another car, or worse- a line of cars, your windows had to be rolled up, and the ‘fresh air or outside air vents’ had to be kept closed.

The general conditions of Diamond Bar Road kept most people away, and because of this, only a small group of people ever got to see the Grand Canyons from Quartermaster.

With the Skywalk open, access is now closed to the trails and views at Quartermaster Point.

Diamond Bar Road – The Road to Skywalk and Grand Canyons West – Part 2

Hoover Dam Facts; Hoover Dam Powerhouse – Quick Facts

Hoover Dam Facts and Statistics

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Hoover Dam intake towers under construction

Hoover Dam

  • 726.4 feet high (221 meters)
  • 1,244 feet wide (379 meters)
  • 660 feet (203 meters) thick at the base
  • 45 feet (13 meters) thick at the top
  • $165 million dollars to build
  • 4.5 years to build
  • 4.4 million yards of concrete used for construction
  • Building began March 1931; Lake Mead began to form behind Hoover Dam in 1935
  • September 30, 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the completed Boulder Dam Project, and in his speech Roosevelt officially named the dam “Boulder Dam”
  • A three-cent stamp was issued by the United States Post Office Department—bearing the name “Boulder Dam”, the official name of the dam between 1933 and 1947
  • Boulder Dam was re-named “Hoover Dam” by Congress in 1947
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One of Two Hoover Dam Generator Rooms – Photo taken on a Nevada Power Plant Tour

Hoover Dam Powerhouse

  • Hoover Dam has Two Powerhouses – one on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, and one on the Nevada side of the Colorado River
  • 17 generators – 9 on the Arizona powerhouse, 7 in the Nevada powerhouse
  • 4+ billion kilowatt hours produced each year
  • 10 acres of floor space
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Hoover Dam Powerhouses viewed from pedestrian walkway on the New Hoover Dam Bridge

Power from Hoover Dam is used by:

  • 56% California
  • 25% Nevada
  • 19% Arizona

Water from Lake Mead, controlled by Hoover Dam:

  • Serves 8 million people in Arizona, Nevada and California
  • Downstream releases of water from Lake Mead at Hoover Dam provide water for both municipal and irrigation uses.
  • Water released from the Hoover Dam eventually reaches the All-American Canal for the irrigation of over 1,000,000 acres of land in Southern Arizona, California, and Mexico.
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Lake Mead water Overflows Around Hoover Dam, as seen from Arizona Side. An Old Hoover Dam Postcard – circa 1983

Lake Mead

  • Required over 6 years to fill. This slow filling process was necessary to reduce the pressures on the dam and helped prevent small earthquakes from land settlement from the weight of the water.
  • 589 feet (181 meters) at the deepest point
  • 247 square miles
  • 110 miles (176 km) long
  • Named after Dr. Elwood Mead, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (1924 – 1936)
  • Largest man-made reservoir in the United States

Boulder Dam Tour or Hoover Dam Tour – Which Is It?

Boulder Dam Tour / Hoover Dam Tour Confusion

As a seasoned, experienced, highly-trained and professional Las Vegas Tour Guide, I have some favorite Las Vegas day trips. Skywalk, Zion Park tours, Grand Canyons West and South Rim, and of course…

The Boulder Dam Tour… The Hoover Dam Tour

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Boulder Dam and the Hoover Dam Bridge

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Hoover Dam and the Hoover Dam Bridge

Boulder Dam / Hoover Dam Naming Controversy

During the years of lobbying leading up to the passage of legislation authorizing the dam in 1928, the dam was generally referred to by the press as “Boulder Dam” or “Boulder Canyon Dam”, notwithstanding the fact that the proposed site had been shifted to Black Canyon.[14] The Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928 (BCPA) never mentions a proposed name or title for the dam. The BCPA merely allows the government to “construct, operate, and maintain a dam and incidental works in the main stream of the Colorado River at Black Canyon or Boulder Canyon”.[105]

When Secretary Wilbur spoke at the ceremony starting the building of the railway between Las Vegas and the dam site on September 17, 1930, he named the dam “Hoover Dam”, citing a tradition of naming dams after Presidents, though none had been so honored during their terms of office. Wilbur justified his choice on the ground that Hoover was “the great engineer whose vision and persistence … has done so much to make [the dam] possible”.[106] One writer complained in response that “the Great Engineer had quickly drained, ditched, and dammed the country”.[106]

After Hoover’s election defeat and the accession of the Roosevelt administration, Secretary Ickes ordered on May 13, 1933 that the dam be referred to as “Boulder Dam”. Ickes stated that Wilbur had been imprudent in naming the structure after a sitting president, that Congress had never ratified his choice, and that it had long been referred to as Boulder Dam.[106]

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Boulder Dam and the Hoover Dam Name Change – Secretary Ickes Tried To Retain The Name “Boulder Dam”

When Ickes spoke at the dedication ceremony on September 30, 1935, he was determined, as he recorded in his diary, “to try to nail down for good and all the name Boulder Dam”.[65] At one point in the speech, he spoke the words “Boulder Dam” five times within thirty seconds.[107] Further, he suggested that if the dam were to be named after any one person, it should be for California Senator Hiram Johnson, a lead sponsor of the authorizing legislation.[65] Roosevelt also referred to the dam as “Boulder Dam”,[83] and the Republican-leaning Los Angeles Times, which at the time of Ickes’ name change had run an editorial cartoon showing Ickes ineffectively chipping away at an enormous sign “HOOVER DAM”, reran it showing Roosevelt reinforcing Ickes, but having no greater success.[108]

In the following years, the name “Boulder Dam” failed to fully take hold, with many Americans using the two names interchangeably and mapmakers divided as to what name should be printed. Memories of the Great Depression faded, and Hoover to some extent rehabilitated himself through good works during and after World War II. In 1947, a bill passed both Houses of Congress unanimously restoring the name to “Hoover Dam”. Ickes, who was by then a private citizen, opposed the change, stating, “I didn’t know Hoover was that small a man to take credit for something he had nothing to do with.”[109]

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Boulder Dam or Hoover Dam?

In the interest of Education and Enlightenment, please review the following statement regarding the Shameless Plagarism of the Wiki Article (above) by your Gonzo Guide:

  • This is from, regarding the controversy involved in The Re-Naming of Boulder Dam to Hoover Dam – The Long Version. (See for yourself at: [])
  • Also see the far more interesting telling of the same story from your Gonzo Las Vegas Tour Guide, “Boulder Dam or Hoover Dam? – The Short Story”

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Stormy Zion Park Tour – Part 2

Spring-time Storm at Zion Park, Utah

We were headed to Utah for a tour of Zion National Park, and the weather forecast told us we might expect thunderstorms and rain.

Clouds over today’s tour of
Zion National Park
Zion National Park Tour, Zion Park Thunderstorm

Heading into a spring-time storm
at Zions Park, Utah

I had been watching the clouds over northern Arizona and southern Utah since we left Las Vegas.

As experienced guides, we’ve seen it all, and a little spring-time storm doesn’t stop us.

While we were still 50 miles away from Zion Park, we expected that if it did rain at Zion National Park, it would not rain for long.

Patches of heavy black clouds were being pushed across the desert southwest by the wind at about 20 miles per hour.

We picked up our fresh box lunches and headed for the Zion Park Visitor Center. Before we got off the bus, and the rain began – a heavy soaking drizzle.

We decided to stay on the bus and eat our lunch right then. It was a little earlier than usual, but we were hoping the squall would pass over us quickly.

Fifteen minutes later, still raining, we headed for the visitor center. After exploring the exhibits there, we boarded the Zion Park Shuttle Buses.

The clouds that blew in were now covering some of the mountain peaks, a disappointment for sure, but we were still expecting the clouds to blow over.

While the guests were on the Zion Park Shuttle, I decided I would look for some photo opportunities for the website. I got back in the bus and headed to the Zion Park Museum.

The rain stops for a moment at Zion National ParkZion National Park Tour, Zion Park Spring Weather

Zion Park Tour from Las Vegas

Photos were a challenge because the clouds covered the mountains much of the time; a little patience paid off.

Our day tour of Zion Park turned out to be great!

By the time we left Zion Park, the rain was gone and a little blue sky was showing between the clouds. The rocks became visible through the mist of the lower clouds as they passed over Zion Canyon and through Zion Valley.

Our guests had a great time, and had the rare opportunity to watch as waterfalls were created before their eyes – ‘flash-floods’ from the rain high in the rock formations of Zion, falling hundreds of feet as a waterfall to become the Virgin River that would eventually flow to the Colorado River.

The guests said they would not have traded this stormy day for any other. They truly appreciated the stop earlier in the day that allowed them to buy light jackets – they were able to get out in the weather and they completely enjoyed their Zion Park tour.

They got to see Zion National Park differently than most other travelers, and they knew it was very special.

Great photos, unusual weather, another great detour through The Great American West!

Stormy Detours – Zion Park Tour – Part 1

Doc Wymer, Las Vegas Tour Guide

Zion National Park – Best Day Tours from Las Vegas

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A Stormy Zion Park Tour – Part 1

Spring-Time Weather – A Storm at Zion Park, Utah

I had a custom tour to Zion National Park scheduled for today, and I always check the weather before picking up my guests.

Rain Ahead, Thunderstorm Expected:
Zion National Park
Zion National Park Tour, Zion Park Thunderstorm Ahead

Zion Park, Full-Day Tours from Las Vegas

Spring is here in Zion Park now, and thunderstorms and lightning were expected later today all over the Southwest.

The storm would cover a large area, from the Las Vegas valley to the Grand Canyon and of course, to our destination at Zion in Southern Utah.

The temperature in Zion Park when I checked at 4:30am was 34 degrees, and a high of 48 degrees was expected.

Some guests had flown into Las Vegas from North Carolina and were staying at the Wynn resort on The Strip. They were expecting sunshine and blue skies, which is normal for this time of year.

I warned about the weather, and asked if they wanted to go back to their room for long pants and long-sleeved shirts or a jacket – and they told me they had not brought anything but summer clothes.

The safety and comfort of our guests is important to us, so we added a quick shopping trip for them at our first comfort stop in Mesquite, Nevada. About 10 minutes later they came back to the bus with long pants and light jackets. Good choice.

We followed the rain from Mesquite to St. George (Utah), to Hurricane, and finally Springdale, the gateway to Zion National Park. The desert had been washed clean for us the whole way.

Rain has a remarkable impact on the desert – everything changes.

Rain washes the dust off all the plants, allowing their true colors to be seen – bright and beautiful.

Rain darkens the red and white sandstone, too, and changes the visual character of the desert, really bringing it to life right before your eyes.

Part of my box lunch – from
Switchback Grille & Trading Company
Box lunch for tour of Zions Park, Day Tours from Las Vegas

Made fresh for our guests.

Anyway, we must have been 30 minutes or so behind the storm, and we thought we would actually miss the rain.

We picked up our freshly-made box lunches from Switchback Grille & Trading Company, one of our favorite restaurants in Springdale (just outside the entrance to Zion), and headed into the park.

Before we got off the bus at the Zion Park Visitor Center, a black cloud scooted over and within minutes, it began to rain.

Was this Zion Park tour going to be a disaster for my guests?

More Tomorrow: Stormy Detours – Zion Park Tour – Part 2

Doc Wymer, Las Vegas Tour Guide

Zion National Park – Best Day Tours from Las Vegas

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