DIAMOND CREEK

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Diamond Creek is one of the largest tributaries of the Colorado River on the south side of the Grand Canyon. The creek flows north from Peach Springs across the Hualapai Reservation, cutting its own canyon along the way before emptying into the Colorado at river mile 225. Standing at the sandy mouth of the creek, visitors can observe the stratified layers of the Canyon at thousand-foot-high cliffs. The creek gains its name from a nearby diamond-shaped peak that towers over the river.

Because it provided a reliable source of water in an arid climate, generating a rich riparian community for plants and animals, Diamond Creek has attracted humans to the area for centuries. The Hualapai built diversion dams along the creek to help irrigate their fields. They also mined a rich deposit of red mineral pigment from a cave along the creek, which provided them with a valuable commodity in the vast trade network of the Southwest.

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Diamond Creek flows northward to the Grand Canyon, carving out Peach Springs Canyon as it descends towards the Colorado River.

Credit: NAU Cline Library, Bill Belknap Collection, NAU.PH.96.4.80.32

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For nearly fifteen years, Julius and Cecelia Farlee operated a hotel at Diamond Creek, making them the first permanent tourist operation at the Grand Canyon.

Credit: NAU Cline Library, NAU.PH.96.3.24.55

During 1857-58, Army First Lieutenant Joseph Christmas Ives led an expedition to explore the Grand Canyon area. He and his party spent two days near the mouth of Diamond Creek, becoming the first known Euro Americans to reach the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon.

In 1883, Julius and Cecelia Farlee arrived in Peach Springs, and shortly afterwards opened a tourist hotel about a mile from the Colorado River at the confluence of Peach Springs Canyon and Diamond Creek. They ran a stage line between Peach Springs and the hotel. In doing so, they established the first real hotel and tourist business at the Grand Canyon. Their hotel was built very near where Ives had camped a quarter of a century earlier. The couple ran their business until the turn of the century, at which point the abandoned buildings gave shelter only to the occasional hunter or river runner.

Today most river rafting trips through the Grand Canyon end at Diamond Creek because of its wide sandy beaches, and because the road along it provides one of the easiest routes to enter and exit the lower Grand Canyon. However, it is also the starting point for Hualapai River Runners’ one and two day river rafting trips down the Colorado.

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Diamond Peak towers above the Colorado River near the mouth of Diamond Creek, letting river rafters know that they are near the pull out that marks the end of their trip.

Credit: NAU Cline Library, Margaret Eiseman Collection, NAU.PH.2004.8.2.55f.3


written by Sarah Bohl Gerke


Suggested Reading:

  • Anderson, Michael F. Living at the Edge: Explorers, Exploiters and Settlers of the Grand Canyon Region. Grand Canyon Association, 1998.

  • Dobyns, Henry F. and Robert C. Euler. The Walapai People. Phoenix: Indian Tribal Series, 1976.