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.)
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.
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.