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Before You Go: Five Things to Know About Havasupai

June 24, 2014 at 12:30 PM | by | ()

Our photo gallery of Havasu Falls highlighted the stunning beauty that awaits adventure travelers who make the journey into the Grand Canyon, and from those you can see that milky turquoise water, stretching canyon walls, and jagged rock formations stole the show for us visually. But there were also many interesting and unexpected aspects of the area that surprised us, some that provided context that enhanced our trip and others that, simply put, surprised the hell out of us.

The Trail

The Havasupai Trail is the main route of access to Havasu Creek and Havasu Falls, known for its dramatic travertine formations and incredible milky turquoise water. The trailhead begins in Hualapai Hilltop, about a five and a half hour drive from Phoenix and four hours from Flagstaff.

You must have a reservation to hike the trail and camp near the falls, so be sure to make one in advance. If you show up without one, you will be charged double. The normal prices for those with reservations is a $35/person entrance fee for the trail as well as a $17/night/person camping fee. The trail itself descends over 1,000 feet immediately, then levels off and is slightly downhill for the entire 11-miles (coming back, remember, is the opposite). The first six miles or so takes you through dry, red rock terrain until you reach Havasu Creek.

The Town of Supai and the Havasupai Tribe

The Havasupai Trail goes directly through the town of Supai, the capital of the Havasupai Indian Reservation that sits near mile marker eight. Yes, people actually live in the bottom of the Canyon. A few hundred tribe members call it home, making their living off of tourism and focusing on agriculture for the tribe. One fun fact about Supai is that it is one of only two places in the country where mail is still carried out by mule. The other is Phantom Ranch, also in the Canyon.

Where Are We? Hawaii?

When you think of the Grand Canyon, dry dust, dirt, and red rocks are the first images to come to mind, and that's mostly what you see along the trail until you reach the Havasu River. But once in Havasu Canyon, the water induces lush, green vegetation that makes you feel like you're in Hawaii. The contrast between the green of the plants, the red of the rocks, and the blue of the water is something to see.

Havasu Falls is Just the Beginning

The incredible oasis that is Havasu Falls is the main attraction at the end of the trail for visitors, but the entire area is an adventure traveler's paradise. The Havasu Creek eventually empties into the Colorado River about 10 miles downstream from Havasu Falls in Grand Canyon National Park, and the contrast of colors (shown above) is extremely cool to see. More photos of this journey to come, as it takes you through a lot of lush vegetation and fun river crossings and deserves its own post.

If You’re Not a Hiker, You Can Still Get There

The Havasupai Tribe runs daily helicopter rides from the rim to their village two miles from Havasu Falls. Cost is $85 and it works on a first-come, first-serve system with priority given to members of the Havasupai Tribe. If you want to walk but travel light, you can put your pack on the back of a mule and pick it up at the campsite.

Or, you can go all out and join an organized outfitter trip that handles all the picky deets above, as well as food, shelter, and comfort while staying in the Canyon. In a post to follow, we’ll take a detailed look at one such venture, AOA Adventures, and how they can help you to explore Havasupai.

[Photos: Will McGough]

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