Nigel Turner, owner, Grand Canyon Ranch
Philbert Watahomigie, Sr., Vice Chairman, Hualapai Tribe
BY IAN MYLCHREEST -- A dispute over territory is brewing in Mohave County, Arizona and it involves two major tourist attractions in the area. Grand Canyon Ranch Owner Nigel Turner says he owns Diamond Bar Road, which runs through his spread that includes a ranch for tourists. The Hualapai Tribe uses the road as the shortest route to its Grand Canyon Skywalk. They say that Turner’s decision to begin charging tourists $20 per person is victimizing unsuspecting tourists.
The dispute dates to a federal court case in 2008, which the county paid Turner $750,000 for an easement that would allow a new road to be constructed. Four miles of that road were built but the final 12 miles were not. And now that the four years for the road to be built have expired, Turner is taking back his land and the road he says is his.
Suddenly, he says, construction with roaring bulldozers has begun again just “feet away from cabins” on the ranch. The opening of the Hualapai Tribe’s Skywalk attraction on the western rim of the Grand Canyon has also been a source of friction. “We’ve complained for years now about the noise of buses, the speeding, we’ve got about 50 horses out there and cattle killed, and so something had to be done to save our guests, the environment and also our staff,” Turner says.
Turner would be happy for tourists to the Skywalk to use another route. But, said Philbert Watahomigie, Vice Chairman of the Hualapai Tribe, the road through Turner’s ranch is the easiest route. The other road is much longer and is “much rougher.”
The toll, he said, has barely affected the Skywalk. “Counts are down a little bit but I know quite a few people are still going out there.” In any case, the tribe maintains that the old road is a county road and Turner should not be charging for it.
Watahomigie says the new road should be finished in August.