Early on in our relationship, before we had done any traveling outside the state of Maine, we were at home watching The Travel Channel. A show came on that featured a largely unknown section of the Grand Canyon that is not part of the national park. The segment went on to show beautiful turquoise waters, red stone typical of the canyon and stunning waterfalls. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were in Hawaii or some far and away shangri-la. But it was a section of the Grand Canyon home to American Indian people known as the Havasupai. It was in that moment when we looked at each other and said, “We have to go there.”
Living in an area known as Cataract Canyon, the tribe greets visitors with one of its star attractions: Havasu Falls, the second waterfall in the canyon.
HOW TO GET THERE
Visiting Havasupai is not easy, all visitors require a permit. Plan to stay at least one night, two or more is highly recommended though so that you have a chance to really explore the canyon. No matter how long you plan to stay, be sure to make your reservations far in advance, the permits often sell out early in the season.
To get to the Havasupai trailhead, take Interstate-40 to Seligman, AZ, head west about 30 miles on AZ-66 to Indian Road 18, Follow Indian Rd 18 60 miles to Hualapai hilltop parking lot to begin the hike. The hike into Supai, Arizona, the only town on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, is 8 miles on a dusty trail either on foot or packhorse.
We got to the reservation by hiking in with 2 nights and 3 days worth of supplies on our backs.
It is 8 miles to the reservation and another 3 miles to the campground. We met a few hikers on the way out who greeted us with a smile. We thought for sure if we met these middle aged people hiking back out that it would surely be doable for us. More on that later.
WHERE TO STAY
There is one lodge in Supai Village that is available for tourists. About 2-3 miles outside the Village is Havasu Falls and the Havasupai campground where most visitors choose to stay. The campground is about ¾ of a mile long with undefined camping spots available as first come – first served.
The hike itself down into the canyon isn’t bad. It’s about 1.5 miles of switchbacks downhill, followed by 9.5 miles of flat, sandy terrain. Our legs were certainly tired by the end, but it was very doable. However, the next day, we were SO SORE! We could hardly move. By the time we had to head out 2 days later, we were hurting so bad we opted to take a helicopter out of the canyon and back to the trailhead. It was money well spent. The views were absolutely amazing and it saved us about 4-5 hours of bitching about how bad we hurt.
PRICES FOR HAVASU FALLS CAMPING, PACK MULES, HELICOPTER AND LODGE
Prices as of September 2015 and all prices are in US Dollars:
Entrance Fee: $35 per person
Campground Fee: $17 per person/per night
Environmental Care Fee: $5 per person
Round Trip Pack Horse (Campground): $187
One Way Pack Horse (To or from campground): $93.50
Round Trip Pack Horse (Lodge): $120
One Way Pack Horse (To or from lodge): $70
Helicopter: $85 per person – One way
Lodge: $145 per night, plus $35 Entrance Fee. ($40.00 deposit per room/per night)