The most remote community in the continental United States lies deep within the Grand Canyon. It has no cars, only ambulatory access (or helicopter), and is the only village in America in which mail is delivered by mule. It’s also the gateway and namesake to the magnificent Havasu Creek canyon, carved out and sculpted by its mineral rich waters. Besides its stunning blue-green water, the creek’s travertine creates stunning riff dams and flowstones to accent its ripples and waterfalls. The water makes the gloriously grotesque waterfalls glisten in the sunlight. There may not be a more beautiful place in the world.
The Havasupai tribe opens up their homeland valley to adventurous visitors based on an awkward reservation system. On the prescribed day, I called every five minutes on two different numbers in the hopes of securing my three days in their paradise. Three days later, my persistent lottery efforts were rewarded when a tribesman finally answered my call and booked my stay four months later.
On the appointed date, I drove 400 miles and hiked 9 miles down a steep switchback trail to the booming metropolis of Supai, the 208 person capital city of the Havasupai reservation. Marring the hike down are frequent reminders of the dangers of the tribe’s rugged thoroughfare – dead equines memorializing the arduous journey. Lame beasts of burden are shot and burned trailside to keep the smell down. For that reason, I stepped carefully to avoid suffering the same consequence!
After paying for my reservation at the municipal office and buying an ice cream at the store, I backpacked another two miles to the isolated riparian campground. It’s furnished with an ice cold spigot emerging from the canyon wall, port-a-potties flown in by chopper, and open camping with 300 of your closest “friends.” It’s not luxurious or private,but this was my gorgeous base camp for three days.
After setting up camp, I basked in the natural pools to ease my tired legs and contemplated my good fortune. Exploring upstream was the picturesque Havasu Falls and downstream the huge 200 foot Mooney Falls and the cascading Beaver Falls. What makes these falls particularly unique are the ever-changing stalactite formations with its gorgeous blue green water pouring over the precipices’ lips.
In addition, there are many other falls and pools to add beauty, variety, and water fun to the canyon. Beneath the powerful flow of each waterfall are inviting pools to tantalize the psyche and deadly undertows to haunt the soul. It’s a magical place with a dark side.
Visitors have an irresistible urge to frolic in the enticing waters, myself included! I took every opportunity to wade, jump, flip, swim, and lounge in the waters. At the bottom of Mooney Falls, one of my hike mates barely escaped the sucking currents of the powerful water. Two weeks later, another hiker wasn’t so fortunate. Whether it is burnt donkeys or tragic drownings, Havasupai must be respected as much as it is appreciated.