Canyonlands: Tales from Narrow Places

The magic of Havasupai

Posted in Northern Arizona & the Mogollon Rim by canyoneering on June 4, 2009
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Havasupai Canyon
Havasupai Indian Reservation, tributary of the Grand Canyon
06/23/07 – 06/25/07, 06/07/08 – 06/09/08

When I think about Havasupai the first word that comes to mind is “magic”. There is nothing I could say about Havasupai that would do the place justice. From the beautiful 10- mile hike into the canyon to the unreal aqua colored water, Havasupai is truly a wonder.

About 450 native Havasu ‘Baaja people live in this remote location where the only form of transportation in and out of the canyon is by foot, horse or helicopter. The US Government created the reservation in 1882. Today the main source of income is tourism.

My first trip into the canyon was with David, Mike and Ira (a first time for us all) in 2007. After the long and dusty hike to the bottom of the canyon the first signs of water were a welcome sight. First we saw green trees, then a stream and a running irrigation ditch, then just past the Supai village there are swimming holes off to the left of the trail. David and I stopped at one of the swimming holes for lunch and a dip while we waited for Mike and Ira to catch up. Those small swimming holes were so pleasant that we talked about how if that was all there was it would have been enough. Little did we know the magnificence that awaited us around the corner. It is hard to describe the feeling I had the first time I saw Havasu Falls. I could not believe my eyes, a powerful 100ft aqua blue waterfall in the middle of the desert!

The one negative thing I can say about Havasupai are the crowds (do NOT get me started on the port-a-potty situation!) so to avoid as many people as possible we walked as far back into the canyon campground as we could and ended up camping just above Mooney Falls. We didn’t bother bringing tents; it was nice to sleep out under the stars.

The second day of our adventure we explored more of the canyon. Climbing down Mooney Falls through blasted out caves and a slippery trail was a freaky experience, I admit I was scared. Once down the 200ft Mooney Falls we headed down stream. Havasupai is like a giant water park with multiple rope swings and amazing travertine pools. We never made it to Beaver Falls. We thought we made it but found out later we had not gone far enough! That is how cool this place is. We turned around at an incredible spot we thought must be Beaver.

Mooney Falls

Our third day in Havasupai we tried to get an early start for the hike back to our car but got distracted at Navajo Falls where someone had set up a zip line across the large pool in front of the waterfall. It was so early in the morning we had the place to ourselves. Hiking out under the brutal summer sun (with Mike refusing to drink water as usual) we were already talking about our next trip back to Havasupai. Ira as it turned out could not wait another year and ended up going back to Havasupai again later that same summer.

Havasupai is one of those places I want to share with everyone so when my friend Christine said she wanted to come visit me from DC and it was going to be in June, I really didn’t give her much of a choice. I was just so excited to share the enchantment I had experienced. I couldn’t imagine anyone not seeing the magic I saw.  So in June 2008, David, Mike, Ira, and myself, along with Christine, were on our way back to Havasupai. On this trip we spent more time exploring Navajo Falls with all its cool grottos on the backside of the waterfall. We also made it to the real Beaver Falls! We unexpectedly ran into our friend Erin as we were entering the campground and hung out with her one night (magic I know!). David, Mike and Ira hiked the entirety of the canyon to the Colorado River while Christine and I spent time relaxing below Mooney Falls catching up.

In August 2008 Havasupai experienced a major flood, if you haven’t seen it check out on the many You Tube videos of Havasu Falls violently running mud brown. The floods have supposedly changed much of the canyon a shame, but that is nature.

On a side note our good friends John and Kim (they are in many of our posts on this blog) met at in the campgrounds at Havasupai and were later married. I love that!



One Response

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  1. Ira Shiflett said, on June 5, 2009 at 1:59 am

    I love the way pictures turn out with the twin exposure 35mm camera. If only it was waterproof and designed for canyoneering!

    Speaking of waterproof – I’ve had very good luck with my Olympus Stylus 850 SW – it works in rain and saltwater. Maybe a good pick up for canyoneering!

    p.s. Did you hear that I got that job marketing for Olympus?

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