A dude rancher is having an old west standoff with the Hualapai Indian Tribe and the Arizona Sherriff over access to the Grand Canyon West Rim which features a popular tourist attraction known as the Skywalk.
Nigel Turner who owns the Grand Canyon Ranch Resort has closed Diamond Bar Road to all tourism traffic, including tour buses. Diamond Bar Road, which runs through the ranch, is the route currently used by tour companies. The agreement was to run for four years. Turner was paid $750,000 for the agreement. The rancher filed a lawsuit in May against the government who he claims have failed to abide by the terms of the settlement. Approximately 5 miles of the road has been built and Turner is upset and frustrated that continued construction would kick up dust and endanger helicopter flights to his ranch.
The dispute escalated this week when a construction team started work on a temporary road to bypass the toll booth and keep traffic flowing to the Skywalk. Turner took a further step and blockaded Diamond Bar road which runs through a portion of his 168 Square mile ranch.
Any tour bus that showed up to the entrance of the road were met with armed security and told to pay a toll of – $20 per adult, $10 per child and $500 for tour buses – on people crossing his property.
He was arrested by Mohave County sheriff’s deputies on suspicion of misdemeanor threats and intimidation after he told construction workers he had a gun, the sheriff’s office said. Turner, who was later freed on bond, denies carrying a gun and said he was on private land at the time.
Turner says “These people have booked holidays a year out … and they started building a road in the high season,” he said. “Would you want to stay at a beautiful ranch in the middle of nowhere if there’s explosions going on 200 feet away, or bulldozers?”
He says he will reopen Diamond Bar Road if the tribe stops work on the permanent alternate route, which he says is kicking up dust and putting off tourists from around the world.
In the meantime, the folks at Paradise Found Tours suggest taking advantage of the Grand Canyon South Rim National Park. Which they say is beautiful this time of year and offers much more expansive views at a cheaper price.